NSW and Victoria to scrap Covid isolation requirements for household and close contacts

Household contacts of confirmed Covid-19 cases in Victoria and New South Wales will no longer be required to isolate, with both states announcing a significant easing of restrictions from the end of the week.

The NSW premier, Dominic Perrottet, announced on Wednesday that from 6pm on Friday, those who live with positive cases or are deemed close contacts will no longer have to quarantine for seven days, provided they do not have symptoms.

They will need to undertake daily rapid antigen tests, wear masks indoors, avoid contact with elderly and immunocompromised people and work from home where possible.

They will also be unable to visit high-risk settings such as aged care homes, hospitals, disability and correctional facilities unless an exemption applies.

Perrottet also announced that public health orders requiring key workplaces to be vaccinated will be lifted, and based instead on risk assessments under occupational work health and safety rules. Orders requiring aged care and disability workers to be vaccinated will remain in force, however.

From 30 April, unvaccinated international travellers arriving in NSW will not be required to undertake hotel quarantine.

“This is not the end of the pandemic. We will always tailor our restrictions – as we have said from the outset over the last two years – to the circumstances that we find ourselves in,” Perrottet said.

“But today is a day where the people of our state in NSW can be incredibly proud. We have had an incredibly low death rate, we have put downward pressure on our health system and that is because of the efforts and sacrifice people have made.”

In Victoria, the health minister, Martin Foley, announced close contacts will no longer have to quarantine, provided they wear a mask indoors, avoid sensitive settings such as hospitals and aged care homes, and undertake five negative rapid antigen tests over the seven-day period.

Under the new restrictions, which come into effect from 11.59pm on Friday, patrons no longer need to show proof of their vaccination status to enter hospitality or entertainment venues, and check-in QR codes will no longer be required anywhere.

Masks will only be required on public transport, in taxis and rideshares, at airports and in health, aged care and justice setttings.

Quarantine will also be scrapped for unvaccinated international arrivals, with the recently opened purpose-built $200m quarantine facility in Mickleham to largely be used for Covid-positive people who cannot safely isolate at home.

Unlike NSW, existing vaccination mandates for workers will remain in Victoria.

Victoria’s chief health officer, Brett Sutton, said authorities would work with individual industries in the coming months to “transition” away from mandates.

He said Wednesday’s announcement was possible due to the state’s high vaccination rate – about 95% of Victorians aged 16 and older are double vaccinated, while 66% have had three doses.

“Today is a significant day for all Victorians – not a wholesale change, but an appropriate next step in this phase of the management of the pandemic,” he said.

“From Saturday, it will absolutely focus more on the individual discretion of all of us in the community to make appropriate choices.”

Sutton was confident the state had reached the peak of its latest Omicron outbreak, despite a slight jump in case numbers.

Victoria recorded 14 deaths and 10,628 new infections on Wednesday, while NSW recorded 15 deaths and 15,414 cases.

“Today’s a blip; I think people defer their RAT tests and their PCR tests while they’re on holiday. NSW has had the same blip today, but I think that will smooth out over the next few days and we’ll see this plateau phase,” Sutton said.

“But it’ll be a long tail and a slow decline, we’re not going to see a dramatic drop in numbers.”

He did not anticipate changes to close contact rules would lead to a spike in new infections.

“It’s not going to be a big driver of case numbers,” Sutton said. “But we need the compliance and people to follow suit.”

Comments are closed.