30 September 2022

Public health emergency is over: mask, vax mandate scrapped

| Lottie Twyford
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Discarded mask

The public health emergency declaration has been replaced with a pandemic management one. Photo: File.

More than two-and-a-half years since it was first declared in the Territory, the ACT’s public health emergency has come to an end, taking a number of remaining COVID-19 rules and restrictions with it.

Face masks are no longer mandatory on public transport, broad vaccine mandates no longer apply for aged and disability care settings, and household contacts don’t need to register their status with ACT Health.

COVID-19 safety plans are no longer required for ACT businesses.

As foreshadowed by Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith last month, the Territory’s PCR testing regime will be scaled back.

Testing centres have experienced a drop-off in demand as caseloads have dropped in the last two months.

covid test

The Kambah COVID-19 testing centre will permanently close at 4 pm this afternoon. Photo: Canberra Health Services.

The Kambah COVID-19 testing centre will permanently close at 4 pm today (30 September) and the operating hours of the other centres will be reduced from tomorrow (Saturday, 1 October).

Testing will be available at Garran from 10 am to 6:30 pm, Mitchell from 8 am to 2 pm and Holt from 8 am to 4 pm.

PCR testing will be prioritised for those who are most at-risk of serious disease, the ACT Government said.

This includes those who work in high-risk settings, have a referral from a GP, are unable to use a RAT or have completed a negative RAT and are symptomatic.

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A COVID-19 management declaration is replacing the public health emergency declaration.

Those new laws allow the government to implement some public health restrictions and give it the legislative power to tighten these if the situation changes.

The management declaration is in force until 29 December 2022.

Under these new conditions, people who test positive for the virus are still required to register the result with ACT Health, report it to their employer and household contacts and quarantine for five days.

Face masks are mandatory for two days upon leaving isolation.

Quarantine is also mandatory for seven days for household contacts unless they can follow risk mitigation strategies.

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Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the community had responded incredibly well in its fight against COVID-19 since early 2020.

“This is the next stage in our COVID-19 response. There will need to be ongoing support for Canberrans who are most vulnerable to COVID-19, and a mechanism that allows the government to swiftly implement the public health measures that have proven to be highly successful in suppressing the virus in the Territory,” Mr Barr said.

COVID-19 caseloads, hospitalisations and vaccination data are now reported weekly on Fridays by ACT Health.

More information about the COVID-19 situation in the Territory is available online.

Original Article published by Lottie Twyford on Riotact.

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