‘Close Contact’ Category to Be Loosened for Fully Vaccinated: Australian State Proposal

By Rebecca Zhu
Rebecca Zhu
Rebecca Zhu
Rebecca Zhu is an Australian reporter based in Sydney. She focuses on the Australian economy, property, and education. Contact her at rebecca.zhu@epochtimes.com.au.
October 1, 2021 Updated: October 1, 2021

The New South Wales (NSW) government is considering a proposal to overhaul contact tracing rules for people who have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccination.

Under the proposal (pdf), a fully vaccinated person will no longer be identified as a close contact nor be forced to isolate if they have visited an exposure site, both indoors and outdoors. However, it will not apply to settings such as schools, healthcare, or aged care.

NSW Health will also downgrade the risk categories of these people to casual contact even in the event of direct physical contact, which includes shaking hands, hugging, or kissing. Those who also wear masks and do not have physical contact will be further downgraded to low risk.

People who are unvaccinated or have received one dose will remain under the close contact risk category.

However, NSW Health notes that this proposed guidance is general, and subject to change, with specific assessments possibly required in some circumstances, such as in settings with poor ventilation.

Epoch Times Photo
Former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian gives a COVID-19 update in Sydney, Australia, on Sept. 27, 2021. (Joel Carrett – Pool/Getty Images)

Former NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian hinted at the changes on Sept. 29 when she said reaching 70 and 80 percent vaccination rates meant dealing with contact tracing differently.

“You don’t have to be as cautious with close contacts, you don’t have to be as cautious with a whole range of things you deal with, and that applies to schools as well,” Berejiklian said. “I want to make it clear that contact tracing, and the way we deal with positive cases for fully vaccinated people, will look a bit differently to what it does today.”

The state crisis cabinet is expected to consider the proposal today, and come into effect once the state hits the 70 percent vaccination target on Oct. 11.

At present, people identified as close contacts must self-isolate for 14 days regardless of vaccination status. In addition, casual contacts need to have a rapid antigen test for 14 days from their exposure to COVID-19 if they do not want to self-isolate, while low risk contacts simply need to self-monitor for symptoms.

Rebecca Zhu
Rebecca Zhu is an Australian reporter based in Sydney. She focuses on the Australian economy, property, and education. Contact her at rebecca.zhu@epochtimes.com.au.