From 11.59pm on Thursday 18 November, venue density and capacity limits will be scrapped, enabling the state’s hospitality and events industries to gear up for a spectacular summer.
Mask rules will only apply in high-risk settings and retail, with the latter to be enforced until 15 December if the state avoids a large spike in hospitalisations.
Isolation requirements have also eased, meaning most people who come into contact with a COVID-19 case out in the community won’t have to quarantine and will instead isolate until receiving a negative PCR test result.
The Victorian Chamber has advocated strongly for these changes and welcomed the announcement that will help Victoria propel into recovery.
“Open up your purses and wallets, gather your family and friends. It’s time to get out and enjoy our state again. Today’s announcement signals the return of Victoria and the changes to COVID-19 restrictions will set up our economy and State to come roaring back,” said Victorian Chamber Chief Executive Paul Guerra.
The Victorian Chamber has fought hard on behalf of our members and businesses for this easing of restrictions which will be a game-changer as we continue to ease into summer and the festive season; peak time for so many businesses that are ready to make the most of these fabulous new conditions.”
Premier Daniel Andrews also thanked Victorians for rolling up their sleeves.
“Victorians have kept their end of the bargain and the government will do the same,” Mr Andrews said.
“So ;whether it’s 100,000 people at the MCG on Boxing Day, or a smaller group of people standing up at the public bar at their local pub having a beer, this is the COVID-normal that every Victorian has built.”
Masks: Masks are required indoors only in limited settings including retail, health care, aged care, meat processing and justice facilities, at primary schools and on public transport/taxis/rideshare. Masks will also be required for staff serving in hospitality venues. It’s recommended people wear a mask if they can't physically distance, have any symptoms, or are with people who may be vulnerable to COVID-19.
Workers: Workplaces are open, but workers must be fully vaccinated in spaces only open for fully vaccinated people (e.g. restaurants), or if required to be vaccinated while working outside their home.
Workplaces: Workplaces must have a COVIDSafe Plan in place and keep records of everyone attending using the Service Victoria app. Workplaces must also regularly clean and disinfect shared spaces and high touch surfaces; display signage in public spaces providing information about check-in, vaccination requirements and, where relevant, mask requirements. Additional obligations may apply for some industries.
Events: All indoor and outdoor events with less than 30,000 fully vaccinated attendees will be able to proceed with no special approval and outdoor events with 30,000 or more will only need to publish their COVIDSafe Plan. Indoor venues, including stadiums that have a capacity of 30,000 or more, will need a one-off approval of their COVIDSafe Plan from the Victorian Government.
Travel: There are no limits on travel or accommodation in Victoria. Vaccination requirements still apply to relevant settings within an accommodation complex, such as a restaurant or a gym. There are no limits on leaving Victoria, but travel may be impacted by rules outside the state.
Worship: Weddings, funerals and religious ceremonies will have no capacity or density limits if everyone present is fully vaccinated. If vaccination status isn't being checked, these events are restricted to one person per 4 sqm up to a maximum of 50 people per facility, and masks are required.
Hospitals and aged care: There are limits on attending high-risk settings, even for the fully vaccinated. Residents at care facilities can have up to five visitors per day including dependents for any reason. Visitors to hospitals are still limited to a small number of circumstances, such as end-of-life.
Home visits: No limits on the number of people that can gather in a home or public places but it’s strongly recommended everyone gathering is fully vaccinated.
There has also been an update to quarantine rules for people who test positive for COVID-19.
Those who acquire the virus will be required to isolate for 10 days, instead of 14 days.
Most people who come into contact with a confirmed positive case outside their home won’t have to self-quarantine, and instead will be required to get a standard (PCR) test and isolate until they receive a negative result. Previously they had to isolate for 14 days.
This means exposure in places like offices, restaurants or nightclubs won’t automatically result in quarantine for the patrons or staff, who previously would have been designated Primary Close Contacts at Tier 1 exposure sites.
“The changes to isolation requirements and quarantine periods are a game-changer which will make it easier for businesses to stay open and their staff to stay at work,” said Mr Guerra.
The Department of Health can, however, monitor ‘superspreader events’ and impose a quarantine period on contacts on a case-by-case basis, depending on evidence.
Workers exposed at work, and children exposed at school or early childhood centres, will need to show a negative PCR test result to return to work or school – with recommended rapid antigen testing afterwards.
School and workplace contacts presenting to testing centres for their PCR test will also be offered Victorian-funded rapid antigen tests (RATs) for recommended use before entering sensitive settings.
“In good news for businesses, the changes effectively mean the end of mandatory deep cleaning, and the Departmental ‘clearance’ process,” a government statement said. “They will self-manage their exposure in line with public health guidance.
“However, COVIDSafe practices are strongly encouraged and a COVIDSafe plan is still required.”
Exposure sites will also no longer be published, with the new alert function in the Service Victoria app to notify patrons of higher-risk venues where positive cases have been present – such as restaurants, gyms and nightclubs – and advise them to get tested.
For household contacts who have had more than four hours of contact with a case inside a household, accommodation or care setting, isolation is required for seven days if fully vaccinated or 14 days if not fully vaccinated, with a PCR test required on day 0 and for release.
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.