COVID-19 booster mandate and isolation changes announced for key sectors

10 January 2022

A third COVID-19 vaccination is now required for workers within certain essential industries, and close contact isolation arrangements have also changed for food and beverage distribution workers, as part of Victorian Government pandemic orders announced today.


Update (10 February): Deadline extended 

The 12 February 2022 deadline for workers in key sectors to have received their COVID-19 third dose vaccination will be extended by four weeks, the Department of Health announced.

“Workers in the healthcare, aged care, disability, emergency services, correctional facility, quarantine accommodation and food distribution sectors, eligible to receive an additional COVID-19 vaccine by 12 January 2022, are now required to receive a COVID-19 third dose vaccine by 12 March 2022 following a four-week extension, provided they can demonstrate a booking.

“Workers in key sectors who were not eligible to receive an additional COVID-19 vaccine by 12 January 2022 are required to receive their COVID-19 third dose vaccine by 29 March 2022.”


The booster mandate will apply to healthcare, aged care, disability, emergency services, correctional facilities, quarantine accommodation and food distribution workers (not including retail supermarket staff).

Workers eligible for a third dose as of 12 January 2022 will have until 12 February 2022 to receive the vaccine.

Those not yet eligible for a third dose will be required to be boosted within three months and two weeks of the second mandatory dose deadline, as per the following:

  • Residential aged care: 1 March
  • Disability, quarantine accommodation, corrections facilities, emergency services, and food distribution: 12 March
  • Health care: 29 March.

Employers are required to view and record proof of vaccination.

Close contact isolation

To ease supply chain limitations, as of 11.59pm Wednesday 12 January, workers in the manufacturing, distribution or packaging of food and beverages (including retail supermarket workers) may be exempted from close contact isolation requirements if necessary for continuity of operations.

Both the worker and employer must consent to the worker’s return.

Exempted workers must be asymptomatic, undertake daily RATs for five days, and return a negative result before attending work.

They must also wear appropriate face coverings and are not permitted to enter shared break areas, with employers asked to facilitate solo break times.

The close contact isolation exemption for asymptomatic food distribution workers is similar to arrangements already in place for critical healthcare workers.

More industries were made exempt on January 13. Information is available here.

Other restrictions

From 11.59pm on 12 January 2022, indoor dancefloors must close. Venues are still allowed to operate, with no changes to current density settings (one person per two square metres).

Dancefloors at weddings are exempt; however, there is a strong recommendation to consider relocating dancefloors outside.

Restrictions will also apply to aged care visitors, including a limit on patient visitors, and the introduction of testing requirements.

More Information

For more information about restrictions currently in place and what resources are available for your business, visit the Victorian Chamber’s COVID-19 resources page here.

As always, the most up-to-date information about restrictions is available on the Victorian Government’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) website. For specific information about how restrictions affect your business, visit the Business Victoria website.

If you, as an employer or an employer’s representative, feel unsure about what your organisation has in place or would like help in putting a plan in place, please do not hesitate to contact the Victorian Chamber’s Health, Safety and Wellbeing (HSW) team on 03 8662 5196.

Members can also call our Workplace Relations Advice Line on 03 8662 5222 to discuss their employment obligations and any issues that arise.

Dealing with workplace issues alone?

Our experienced Workplace Relations Team are here to provide advice over the phone about any human resources or workplace relations issue.

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