Victoria Ends Vaccinated Economy, Drops Vax Passport, Close Contact Isolation Rules

Victoria Ends Vaccinated Economy, Drops Vax Passport, Close Contact Isolation Rules
Pedestrians cross the road at Flinders Street Station in Melbourne, Australia, June 11, 2021. (Sandra Sanders/Reuters)
Rebecca Zhu

The Australian state of Victoria is dropping most of its COVID-19 rules, including vaccination passports, QR code check-ins, mask mandates, and close contact isolation.

Health Minister Martin Foley announced that from April 23, patrons will no longer be required to have two COVID-19 vaccination doses or show their vaccination status before entering a venue, ending the state’s vaccinated economy.

People also will not need to check-in using the Service Victoria app and businesses will no longer be required to keep the check-in attendance records.

Mask mandates have been dropped in primary schools, early childhood, hospitality, and retail settings, and at all events.

Mask rules remain in hospitals, but all other visitor restrictions have been removed. Health services will be allowed to uphold their own rules depending on their circumstances.

In addition, people still need to wear masks on public transport, at airports, and in sensitive health, aged care, and justice settings. They also continue to be “strongly recommended” in areas where physical distancing is difficult.

The exemption period for testing and quarantine for people who have had COVID-19 has been extended from eight to 12 weeks.

Individuals who get COVID-19 will be required to notify their workplace and social contacts, while workplaces will no longer need to individually notify every potentially exposed worker in an outbreak.

The state also announced a number of changes in lockstep with neighbouring state, New South Wales, including scrapping the seven-day close contact isolation requirement.

However, close contacts will be required to wear masks indoors and “avoid sensitive settings.” They will also be required to produce at least five negative rapid antigen tests over what would have previously been the seven-day isolation period.

It comes one day after peak business groups in both states urged the governments to end close contact isolation requirements to mitigate labour shortages.

Both states are also dropping the mandatory quarantine period for unvaccinated international travellers.

The health minister said the state was in the position to ease the rules as the Omicron wave had started to subside.

“What we know is that we’ve passed the peak and that we are able to look to this group of sensible measures being able to take us into a still challenging winter,” Foley told reporters.

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton said it was a significant day for all Victorians as the state moves to an “appropriate next step” in the management of the pandemic.

“So from Saturday, it will absolutely focus more on the individual discretion of all of us in the community to make appropriate choices for ourselves, to protect ourselves and protect those around us as we go about our day-to-day lives,” he said.