The Victorian government today announced a number of important changes aimed at further protecting the state’s most at-risk care, health and reception workers from the risk of COVID-19 and outbreaks. super-propagating events.
Under new pandemic orders set to take effect Wednesday, Jan. 12 at 11:59 p.m., workers in key industries that must already be fully immunized must receive their third dose before being allowed to work on site.
This will apply to health care, care for the elderly, people with disabilities, emergency services, correctional facilities, quarantine facilities and food distribution workers. Workplaces must see and record proof of vaccination.
“This is a wise extension of our existing immunization requirements – ensuring that our essential workers and the vulnerable members of the community they care for are protected,” said Health Minister Martin Foley.
“Victoria is open and the community is encouraged to support businesses in a COVIDSafe way. Closing indoor dance floors is a simple but important step – we know they pose an extraordinary risk of mass transmission.
“No setting is more vulnerable than hospitals and senior care, and that’s why hospital visitors will need to have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine or return a negative rapid antigen test. “
Workers eligible for a third dose on or before Wednesday January 12 will have until Saturday February 12 to receive their third life-saving dose. Workers not yet eligible for a third dose will need to obtain it within three months and two weeks of the deadline to receive their mandatory second dose.
This means that senior residential care workers should receive their third dose by March 1 and healthcare workers by March 29. People with disabilities, quarantine facilities, prisons, emergency services and food distribution workers will need to receive their third dose by March 12.
According to the changes, good distribution workers include manufacturing, warehousing and transportation (freight / port) workers involved in food distribution. Retail supermarket staff are not included in the mandate.
The Victorians of these priority cohorts were among the first to have their first and second dose of vaccination in 2021. The mandatory vaccination requirement will not apply to workers who have a valid medical exemption.
“This ordinance responds to the increased risks of exposure to COVID-19 for critical workers, their proximity to vulnerable people, the higher risk of the virus spreading in their workplace and the need to protect access to essential goods and services, ”said the Minister.
“All Victorians continue to be encouraged to receive their third dose as soon as they become eligible and we will continue to work with public health and industry experts on immunization requirements.
“As a smart move to reduce the risk of the virus spreading, indoor dance floors at hospitality and entertainment venues are to close as of 11:59 pm on January 12. The sites can still function and no changes are made to the density settings currently in place.
“This change reflects parameters already in place in other states, including New South Wales. Indoor dance floors at weddings will be permitted, but hosts and wedding guests should always consider the risks of dance floors and choose to place them outdoors if possible.
Please continue to monitor your health and get tested if you have symptoms, the minister urged.
In addition, additional restrictions on visitors will be applied to hospitals and elderly care facilities, reflecting the vulnerable nature of the patients and residents of these facilities, he said.
“Elderly care center residents will continue to be allowed to receive up to five visitors per day, but visitors must return a negative RAT result before entering. If no RAT is available at the facility, residents will not be allowed more than two visitors. “
“Visitors to hospitals must have received two doses of the vaccine or must return a negative RAT result before entering. Adult visitors who are not fully vaccinated should wear an N95 mask when visiting. Standard face masks continue to be mandatory for children 8 years of age and older.
“While the on-arrival testing requirements remain unchanged, fully vaccinated international arrivals will no longer need to undergo a second PCR or RAT five to seven days after arrival. This change is in line with the National Cabinet decision last week and recognizes the high levels of COVID-19 transmission currently in the community. “
Meanwhile, food and beverage manufacturing, distribution or packaging workers, including workers in retail supermarkets, may be exempt from close contact isolation requirements in order to attend the work from Wednesday January 12 at 11:59 p.m., if necessary for business continuity and other options have been exhausted.
“To mitigate the risks, exempt workers must be asymptomatic, undertake daily RATs for 5 days and return a negative result before going to work. They cannot enter shared break areas and employers are urged to facilitate solo breaks, ”the Minister of Health said.
“In addition, face covers should be worn, using N95 / P2 respirators if possible. Both the worker and the workplace must consent to the worker’s return.
“This new exemption from close contact isolation for asymptomatic food distribution workers is similar to provisions already in place for critical healthcare workers,” he said.
Information on the updated COVIDSafe parameters and vaccination requirements for the third dose will be posted on www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au when the bylaws come into effect at 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, January 12.