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From mask mandates to vaccine passports, COVID-19 rules often change from one press conference to the next, making it hard to keep track.
Heading out over the New Year period? Here’s the most up-to-date information on where you can go, what you can do – and how to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
Revellers pack Flinders Street on New Year’s Eve, 2019.Credit:Chris Hopkins
The government is recommending that venues “stick to seated” service for indoor patrons – particularly at New Year’s celebrations – and restrict dancing to well-ventilated outdoor spaces.
Workers must be fully vaccinated and service is restricted to fully immunised patrons.
Face masks are required for people aged eight and older in all indoor settings except for private homes.
They are also mandatory in the following circumstances:
- Events with more than 30,000 attendees except when patrons are seated outdoors;
- Travelling on public transport, taxis and rideshare services;
- At airports and on board commercial flights;
- Visiting a hospital or other care facility;
- Awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test other than surveillance testing;
- International arrivals and aircrew en route to their quarantine location.
Authorities strongly recommend wearing face coverings if people have any symptoms of COVID-19, are meeting with someone who may be vulnerable to the virus, or can’t physically distance.
Exemptions apply for children in grade 2 and under, those with a physical or mental health condition or a disability that makes masking up unsuitable, people communicating with someone deaf or hard of hearing, and couples getting married among others. No medical certificate is needed.
Fines for flouting the rules vary from a few hundred dollars to more than $1000.
From 12.01am on Friday, the definition of a close contact will change in Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, South Australia and the Australian Capital Territory.
Under the amended classification, a close contact will be considered someone who has spent more than four hours in a home, accommodation, or care facility with someone who has coronavirus.
The new definition of close contact will come into effect in Tasmania on January 1, with Northern Territory and Western Australia to make announcements about their timeline in the near future.
Close contacts will be required to get either a PCR or a rapid antigen test depending on whether they show symptoms of COVID-19. To find out about the new testing requirements read the section below.
Victorians are required to get tested and isolate until they return a negative result if:
- They have COVID-19 symptoms.
- They are a close contact of a confirmed case.
- They are a returned international traveller.
From 12.01am on Friday, symptomatic close contacts of a confirmed case will be required to:
- Get a PCR test and isolate until getting a result.
- If the result is positive, isolate for seven days from the day they received their result.
- Get a rapid antigen test on day six of quarantine.
While asymptomatic close contacts will need to:
- Get a rapid antigen test.
- If the result is negative, resume daily activities and monitor for symptoms.
- If the result is positive, get a PCR test and isolate.
- If the PCR test result is positive, isolate for seven days from the day they received their result.
- Get a rapid antigen test on day six of quarantine.
People might also be asked to get tested if they are due to have surgery or a planned hospital stay.
Authorities recommend asymptomatic people who are not a contact of a case to use a rapid antigen test if they are attending a big event, going to a sensitive setting, or visiting vulnerable people.
Work from home
Authorities are recommending people use the festive season to work from home until more data on the spread of the Omicron variant can be examined by experts.
Workplaces are open, but people must be fully vaccinated if:
- They work in a venue that is open only to fully vaccinated people such as recreation centres and restaurants;
- They work in an industry where it is mandatory to have two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to work outside of home. See the vaccination section below.
Authorities recommend keeping a 1.5-metre distance from others where possible to reduce the risk of catching COVID-19. Using hand sanitiser while outside the home is also recommended.
People are advised to open windows to let fresh air in when meeting others and catch up with friends outdoors when possible.
Fully vaccinated Victorians can go to the following venues:
- Restaurant, pubs and other hospitality venues.
- Bars, nightclubs and other nightlife settings.
- Entertainment venues such as cinemas and zoos.
- Events such as festivals, fun runs and conferences.
- Tourism venues including walking tours and tour buses.
- Sporting events and recreation facilities.
- Hairdressers and beauty salons.
- Adult education facilities such as universities and TAFEs.
- Casinos, gaming and adult entertainment venues.
While unvaccinated Victorians are not allowed to attend the venues listed above, they are able to:
- Shop for essential and non-essential retail.
- Get takeaway food and drinks.
- Attend weddings, funerals and religious ceremonies.
- Attend community sport.
- Use a swimming pool or recreation centre for essential medial care.
- Go to real estate inspections and auctions.
There are no limits on the number of people Victorians can gather at private homes and in public spaces, however, authorities recommend gathering with fully vaccinated people in both settings.
Weddings, funerals and places of worship
There are no vaccination requirements or capacity limits in place for weddings, funerals, and religious ceremonies.
However, if a wedding or ceremony is held in a venue that has vaccination requirements, such as a restaurant or an entertainment venue, attendees must follow these rules.
There are currently no limits on travel in Victoria, however, authorities recommend people staying in accommodation such as hotels and Airbnb are fully vaccinated.
While unvaccinated travellers are allowed to stay in hotels, vaccination requirements may apply in restaurants and gyms at their accommodation.
Victorians are allowed to leave the state without any restrictions but will be subject to the rules of their destination and could be refused entry if they don’t comply.
Check the latest border rules here:
Authorities are recommending people get vaccinated as soon as they become eligible for their first, second, or third dose.
Vaccine mandates apply to workers, contractors, volunteers and students on placement in a variety of fields including accommodation, agriculture and forestry, welfare services, healthcare, construction, mining, funeral services, manufacturing and transport.
The full list of professions can be found here.
High-risk settings such as aged care homes, alcohol and drug residential services and homeless shelters limit the number of people that can visit friends and relatives even if they are vaccinated.
- Up to five visitors per resident per day, including dependents.
- Visitors must wear a mask.
- Visitors must sign a declaration stating they have not been in contact with a confirmed case in the past seven days if double vaccinated and 14 days if unvaccinated.
People must not visit people in aged care if they:
- Have tested positive to COVID-19.
- Are a household contact of a confirmed case.
- Have COVID-19 symptoms.
- Are waiting for a test result.
- Are an overseas traveller or an international aircrew worker who just arrived in Victoria.
Authorities recommend residents and visitors are fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Visits to hospitals are reduced to very few exemptions including for:
- End-of-life visits.
- Life-threatening conditions.
- Essential care and support for a patient’s emotional and physical wellbeing.
- Guardian or parent of a patient under 18.
- Nominated person of a person with mental illness or dementia.
- Interpreting services.
- Need to support a patient upon their discharge.
- Partner of a pregnant patient.
- Accompanying a patient to the emergency department.
- Accompanying the patient to an outpatient appointment.
Each patient can have up to two visitors at a time unless the dependant of a visitor or a patient in hospital are in the visitor group and care for the dependants can’t be arranged.
People are not allowed to visit patients in hospital if they:
- Have tested positive for COVID-19.
- Are a close contact of a confirmed case.
- Have been in contact with a COVID-positive case in the past seven days and are fully vaccinated.
- Have been in contact with a confirmed case in the past 14 days and aren’t fully vaccinated.
- Are waiting for a COVID test result.
- Are under 16 (unless providing end-of-life support).
Some hospitals may have additional visitation requirements.
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