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Dan Andrews releases tens of thousands of new workers exempt from Covid isolation as rules return

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Dan Andrews makes tens of thousands of new workers EXEMPT from Covid isolation rules as he introduces tough new restrictions – so will YOU have to isolate?

  • Victoria recorded 37,169 new cases and 25 deaths as tough restrictions return
  • Thousands of workers will join the food sector in being exempt from isolation
  • Emergency services, education, critical utilities, transport and freight exempt
  • Workers will be freed from isolation from January 18 to provide critical services 
  • Indoor dance-floors at hospitality and entertainment venues closed from Friday
  • Visitors to hospitals must be vaccinated or return a negative rapid antigen test


Tough new Covid-19 restrictions have come into force in Victoria today as Daniel Andrews releases tens of thousands of critical workers from Covid isolation. 

Victoria recorded 37,169 new cases and 25 deaths with hospitalisations at a record high of 953, a slight increase from the 946 a day ago, with 111 in intensive care.  

Workers in emergency services, education, critical utilities, transport and freight will join the food sector in being exempt from close contact isolation requirements. 

‘They will be exempt if they are playing a critical role, they will be exempt from having to do home isolation,’ Premier Daniel Andrews said on Thursday. 

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews (pictured) has introduced tough new Covid-19 restrictions have come into force in Victoria today, as the state records 37,169 new cases and 25 deaths

Workers in emergency services, education, critical utilities, transport and freight will join the food sector in being exempt from isolation requirements (pictured, a Melbourne bar)

Workers in emergency services, education, critical utilities, transport and freight will join the food sector in being exempt from isolation requirements (pictured, a Melbourne bar)

This week, isolation rules changed for supermarket retail workers and those who work in the manufacturing, distribution or packaging of food.

These workers are now exempt from isolating if they become a Covid-19 close contact, however they must be asymptomatic, undertake daily rapid antigen tests for five days and return a negative test before working.   

The exemption already applies to disability, health and aged care workers, as well as those working in emergency services, corrections, quarantine and food distribution. 

In order to be eligible, workers must tell their employer they are a close contact with both parties required to consent to the worker returning to the workplace. 

Workers must return a negative rapid antigen test for five consecutive days and return a negative result prior to attending work each day. 

A face mask must be worn at all times – preferably a N95 mask – with meal breaks to be separated, with no mingling in the wider workforce or car-pooling arrangements. 

MAJOR CHANGES TO CLOSE CONTACT RULES IN VICTORIA:

Employees in emergency services, education, transport, freight, custodial facilities and critical utilities will be eligible to return to work even if they live with a positive case, with tough measures to apply.  

– Workers must take a rapid test for five days prior to their return and every day before attending the workplace.

– Workers must wear a face mask at all time – preferably a N-95 mask – other than when eating and drinking.

– To be eligible workers must asymptomatic and fully vaccinated, with both the employee and the employer consenting to their return. 

– Lunch breaks must be taken in solo areas, with car-pooling arrangements or wider mingling within the workplace not permitted.

– If at any time the worker develops symptoms or tests positive on a RAT, the exemption no longer applies and they must isolate. 

New Covid-19 restrictions announced on Thursday: 

– From 11.59pm on Thursday, indoor dance-floors at hospitality and entertainment venues are closed, with the exception of weddings.

– Visitors to hospitals must be vaccinated or return a negative rapid antigen test before entering the health facility.

– Residents in aged care settings are still only able to have up to five visits a day, with visitors to return a negative RAT result before entering. 

– Aged care residents can only have five visitors per day, who must also return a negative RAT. 

The exemption already applies to disability, health and aged care workers, as well as those working in emergency services, corrections, quarantine and food distribution (pictured, health workers in Melbourne)

The exemption already applies to disability, health and aged care workers, as well as those working in emergency services, corrections, quarantine and food distribution (pictured, health workers in Melbourne)

If at any time the worker develops symptoms or tests positive on a RAT, the exemption no longer applies. 

The employee is then considered a confirmed Covid case and must isolate for 7 days and notify others including their employer. 

Opposition MP James Newbury labelled the rules a ‘soft lockdown’ tweeting: ‘Daniel Andrews has put Victoria into soft lockdown – encouraging isolation of critical workers who are not sick and discouraging people from social events’. 

From 11.59pm on Thursday, indoor dance-floors at hospitality and entertainment venues are closed, with the exception of weddings. 

Visitors to hospitals must be vaccinated or return a negative rapid antigen test before entering the health facility. 

Mandatory booster arrangements have also kicked in, requiring key workers currently eligible for a third dose to get it before February 12.

Adults who haven’t been vaccinated against Covid will be required to wear an N-95 mask at hospitals.

Meanwhile, residents in aged care settings are still only able to have up to five visits a day, with visitors to return a negative RAT result before entering.

Aged care residents can only have five visitors per day, who must also return a negative RAT. 

Victorian residents are also being urged to work and study from home wherever possible.

More to come. 

CHANGES TO CLOSE CONTACT RULES IN VICTORIA:

From 11:59pm, Tuesday 18 January, workers in emergency services, education, critical utilities, custodial facilities, transport and freight will join workers in the food production sector as being eligible for the exemption:

In order to be eligible, fully vaccinated workers must first notify the employer of their status as a contact, and critically, both parties must consent to the worker returning to the workplace. 

Strong measures will be required of workers to reduce the risk of attending work while infectious: 

– The worker must undertake a daily Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) for five days and return a negative result prior to attending work each day

– They must wear a face mask at all times, with exceptions in the case of eating or drinking, or safety reasons, and a P2/N95 respirator is preferred

– They must have separated meal breaks and can’t mingle with wider workforce with no car pooling arrangements permitted. 

– The worker cannot enter shared break areas and the employer must try and facilitate solo break time. The employer must also take reasonable steps to deploy the worker in areas where transmission risk is lower

– If at any time the worker develops symptoms or tests positive on a RAT, the exemption no longer applies – they are a case, must isolate for 7 days, and must notify others including their employer.

This exemption already applies to hospital workers, disability workers, residential aged care facility workers, and ambulance workers. 

Source: Victoria State Government  

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