Victorian Government lifts work from home recommendations

Victorian Government lifts work from home recommendations

Photo: Wayne Yew, via Pixabay.

With fourth dose vaccinations now available, more antiviral options and active COVID case numbers dropping to 14,802 in Victoria from a peak of 71,428 in July, the state's government has announced a lifting of work from home recommendations.

The announcement yesterday came hard on the heels of a relaxation of COVID isolation periods nationally from seven to five days if a person tests negative to the virus on the fifth day - a policy that will be in place from 9 September.

Victorian Minister for Health Mary-Anne Thomas made the announcement encouraging more Victorians to safely return to the office, in a bid to deliver a boost to economies like the Melbourne CBD.

The work from home recommendations were in place to help reduce transmission and protect Victoria's health system during the winter, but now the advice from the Department of Health is that this pressure and transmission risk has reduced. 

However, employers and staff may still consider remote working arrangements that are most appropriate for their workplace and employees based on individual requirements. Businesses or organisations with on-site operations, including home-based businesses, need to have a COVIDSafe Plan which is regularly reviewed to ensure it’s as up to date as possible.

Following the winter peak, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has also requested and received public health advice to confirm that the pandemic declaration should remain until at least the existing date of 12 October, prior to which new advice will be requested.

All Victorians, no matter where they work, are also encouraged to make sure they are up to date with vaccinations, to wear a good quality face mask when in an indoor space and unable to socially distance and maintain good ventilation indoors.

"With spring now here and case numbers and hospitalisations declining significantly, more people may want to get back into the office – and back out to the cafes, shops and bars in busy professional precincts across the state," Minister for Health Mary-Anne Thomas said.

"Lifting the work from home recommendation is in line with current public health advice – we encourage employers and employees to have a conversation about what’s right for their individual needs."

The Property Council announced its "delight" at the decision and applauded the state government for acting to help small business recover in the Melbourne CBD, noting August office occupancy data had barely moved from the 38 per cent mark in July, which was the lowest in the country and represented a significant slump from the month before.

"Melbourne’s CBD has suffered more than any other, with last month’s occupancy figure of 38 per cent a massive 14 points behind Sydney which was the next highest. On our lowest occupancy days, we are seeing only 19 per cent of workers coming into the CBD on Mondays and Fridays," the council reported in a statement.

"The updated advice sends a much-needed signal of confidence to workers and businesses and will support increased CBD activity that will flow through to thousands of small businesses and their families. Victorian employers have a strong record of CovidSafe conduct and will do everything required to warmly welcome back workers to the office.

"We know that our office occupancy since COVID is the worst in the country, and the small businesses in our city now have some hope that Spring has sprung and this change in advice is the absolutely well timed."

This morning Victoria's Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) reported 2,393 new cases of the virus and 17 lives lost, while there are currently 295 people hospitalised of whom five are on ventilators

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