Victoria will ease isolation rules for more workers as of next week, as COVID-19 continues to impact businesses and services.
Ahead of a national cabinet, Premier Daniel Andrews said Victoria will ease close contact isolation requirements in several industries from 11.59pm on Tuesday, January 18.
"We can also add emergency services, education, critical utilities, custodial facilities, transport and freight," he told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday.
"Exempting those workers ... is a common sense way in which we can keep those services and important parts of our society as close to normal as possible."
Workers in these industries will be exempt from isolating if they become a close contact, however they must be asymptomatic, undertake daily rapid antigen tests for five days and return a negative test before working.
The rules will apply to the following industries:
- Emergency Service such as police, fire services and the SES
- Prisons and custodial services
- Critical utilities such as gas, electricity, water and waste disposal
- Freight and transport operators, including at ports and airports
- Primary, secondary and early childhood education
- Critical care services that support our most vulnerable
Strong measures will be required to reduce the risk of a contact attending work while infectious. The following rules must be followed by the critical workers:
- The worker must undertake a daily Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) for five days and return a negative result prior to attending work each day.
- They must wear a face mask at all times, with exceptions in the case of eating or drinking, or safety reasons and a P2/N95 respirator is preferred.
- The worker cannot enter shared break areas and the employer must try and facilitate solo break time. The employer must also take reasonable steps to deploy the worker in areas where transmission risk is lower.
- If at any time the worker develops symptoms or tests positive on a RAT, the exemption no longer applies - they are a case, must isolate for 7 days, and must notify others including their employer.
The number of Victorians over 18 who have received a booster vaccine has risen by two per cent, to 20 per cent.
The premier said there are more than 250,000 booster appointments available.
"Nothing's more important at this stage in our fight against this global pandemic than those who are eligible for a third dose or a booster going and making an appointment," he said.
Meanwhile, new rules requiring hospitality and entertainment venues to close indoor dancefloors also kicked in on Thursday.
Dancefloors at weddings will be permitted as guests can be easily tracked down.
IN OTHER NEWS
Mandatory booster arrangements have also kicked in, requiring key workers currently eligible for a third dose to get it before February 12.
The rules apply to disability, health and aged care workers, as well as those working in emergency services, corrections, quarantine and food distribution.
New rules in hospitals mean anyone visiting must be fully vaccinated or return a negative RAT before entering, and wear an N95 mask.
Aged care residents can only have five visitors per day, who must return a negative RAT.
See the full statement from Premier Daniel Andrews below.