COVID rules ease again

VICTORIA’S staged return to office work has resumed this week as COVID-19 restrictions ease again.

Rules around mandatory mask wearing also changed as of yesterday, Monday, returning to the settings that were in place at Christmas time.

Masks are now only mandatory on all domestic flights, at airports, in hospitals, on public transport, in commercial passenger vehicles, at supermarkets and other large indoor retail locations, including shopping centres.

It’s also recommended that Victorians wear a mask in other situations if physical distancing is not possible.

Premier Daniel Andrews announced last week that with no current evidence of community transmission in Victoria, and a new permit system providing confidence that any interstate outbreaks can be appropriately managed, the Chief Health Officer recommended that it was safe for Victorians to continue heading back to on-site office work.

Starting yesterday, Monday, the Victorian Public Service were able to return to on-site work at 25 per cent capacity at each site and all other office workplaces were able to increase to 50 per cent capacity.

Record-keeping requirements for workplaces will remain unchanged, which means that an employer must keep a record of all workers and all visitors who attend the premises for longer than 15 minutes.

Mr Andrews said while many Victorians would be happy to see an easing of restrictions, it was vital that workplaces maintained and enforced their COVID-Safe plans to protect staff and the broader community.

“We know this will be disappointing for many but the current health advice has also meant Brisbane City and surrounding LGAs, and Greater Sydney, Wollongong and the Blue Mountains will remain red zones until further notice – we simply cannot take the risk in lifting the classification at this point, particularly with the transmission of the UK strain in Queensland’s hotel quarantine system,” he said.

Mr Andrews said Victorians had made an ‘incredible effort’ in getting tested and continued to urge everyone to be tested and stay home if they had any symptoms.

“This will be a massive boost not only for the office workplaces in the heart of Melbourne, but the cafes, restaurants, bars and shops that rely on their business – it will be fantastic to see the city coming alive again,” he said.

“We know there are many Victorians currently north of the border who want to come home and the public health team will continue to assess the situations in New South Wales and Queensland on a daily basis. As soon as it is safe to downgrade the risk in any of the current red zones, we will.”