March 14, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier

In Friday’s National Cabinet meeting of Australia’s state and federal leaders, the decision was made to abolish the requirement for close contacts of COVID-19 cases to isolate as soon as possible, with the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) tasked with advising on the transition for different regions around the country.

In most states the current isolation period of close contacts is seven days, except for in South Australia where the definition of a close contact is significantly tougher – 15 minutes face-to-face maskless and indoors with someone infectious with COVID-19 – and the isolation requirement for household contacts who cannot properly separate for a positive case remains at 14 days, despite positive cases only having to isolate for seven days.

Removal of close contact isolation rules is both a positive and negative for the business events industry.

On the one hand, the removal of the need of close contacts to isolate further diminishes the overall consequences and inconvenience for those who may contract COVID in an event setting, as it will no longer have an immediate and blanket impact on their close social and household contacts.

On the other hand, the removal of the isolation requirement for close contacts raises the likelihood of having COVID-19 cases amongst event attendees, which adds further urgency to measures like pre-event RAT testing and increasing ventilation within event spaces.

In other COVID-related news for the events industry – the exclusive obtained by the Sydney Morning Herald on Friday, which laid out the gap between NSW Health recommendations around public health measures and what politicians find palatable to implement, should sound a note of warning for event organisers.

While NSW Health recommendations included the reintroduction of masks indoors and the reintroduction of density limits, NSW Health Minister said measures like these were a last resort.

Given gathering large groups of people and encouraging mingling of strangers carries a higher risk than many every day activities covered by broad public health measures, planners may need to consider implementing policies which go above and beyond baseline government directives.