April 20, 2022 | By Bronwen Largier

Those classified as COVID-19 close contacts, including those who live with a currently active case, will no longer be required to isolate in both New South Wales and Victoria from late on Friday.

Until now, to slow the spread of COVID-19 in the community, household contacts and “household like” contacts of positive cases were required to isolate for seven days in both states. In all other states and territories, close contact isolation requirements remain for now, however, there is national agreement and a recommendation from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) that these requirements are rolled back as the current Omicron wave subsides.

In NSW, close contacts should take a daily rapid antigen test if coming into close contact with those outside their household for seven days, while in Victoria, close contacts will be required to take five RATs across the seven days following exposure.

In both states, close contacts should not visit high risk settings like hospitals, aged and disability care and wear a face mask in indoor settings outside of their home.

The NSW guidance also says close contacts should work from home if they can and tell their employer or educational provider that they are a close contact of a positive COVID case.

The close contact changes are coming into effect at 6pm on Friday in NSW and one minute to midnight on Friday in Victoria.

Victoria is also easing other restrictions, dropping its vaccine economy approach from Friday night, so that vaccination will no longer be a requirement to enter hospitality and event settings. Venue check-in is also going, as is the requirement for masks at events of over 30,000 people and the need for those events to seek approval to go ahead.

This may seem like a win for the events industry, however as Victoria’s health minister Martin Foley pointed out this morning, this is simply a shifting of responsibility for managing the pandemic from government to industry and community.

“All the advice…is that now is a safe proportionate time to take these pretty significant steps to return safely to living with COVID and responsibility for living with COVID as much as possible to the industry, workplace and community level,” he said.

As the government does less, the events industry will need to do more to protect its customers from contracting COVID in event settings.