• Tony Bosworth

COVID rule changes– masks still to be worn on transport, close contacts have no need to isolate

Close contacts of people with COVID will no longer have to isolate for seven days, and unvaccinated travellers will no longer be required to go into hotel quarantine, in a number of changes announced by the NSW government today and effective from 6pm Friday.

While we are now living with COVID, Chief Medical Officer Dr Kerry Chant said this morning everyone should also get a flu vaccination as soon as possible, especially very young children and the elderly – that's anyone over 65 years old.

The CMO pointed out because of tough COVID restrictions most of us had not been subjected to flu in the past 2 years, so cases had been low.

The flu vaccine now is widely available, said Dr Chant, who added it’s important to get vaccinated now.

“We have to co-exist with COVID but we can’t ignore COVID,” said Dr Chant.

Asked at this morning’s media conference if there was a danger of a more serious variant of COVID arriving, she said, “We need to take simple steps, to protect against it. You never say never with COVID.”

Here’s the full NSW Health information on the new changes from Friday evening.

The NSW Government today announced close contacts of a confirmed COVID-19 case will not be required to isolate, provided they comply with NSW Health guidelines.

There are no changes for positive cases: the seven-day isolation requirement remains in place for anyone who has recorded a positive RAT or PCR result.

From 6pm on Friday 22 April, close contacts (defined as a household contact or an individual deemed by NSW Health to be a close contact) will not have to isolate, as long as they have no symptoms and comply with the following guidelines:

• Do not visit aged care, hospitals, disability, and correctional facilities unless a special exemption applies;

• Wear a face mask in indoor settings outside the home;

• Undertake daily RAT tests before coming into close contact with people outside their household, where practicable;

• Avoid contact with elderly and immunocompromised persons where possible;

• Work from home where practical;

• Notify their employer/educational facility that they are a close contact, and that they are not required to isolate as long as they comply with the above.

Close contacts will need to comply with the above guidelines for 7 days from the time a person in their household tested positive for COVID-19.

Public health orders requiring key workforces to be vaccinated will be lifted, with vaccine requirements to be based on risk assessments under occupational work health and safety, in line with other jurisdictions. Orders requiring aged care and disability workers to be vaccinated will remain in force.

Consultation will take place with relevant stakeholders with details to be finalised in coming weeks.

These changes will mean the critical worker exemptions from isolation rules will no longer be required. However, close contacts will still need to comply with any COVID-19 safety measures that have been put in place in their workplace by employers.

From 30 April 2022, unvaccinated international returning travellers will not be required to undertake hotel quarantine. The current requirements for fully vaccinated travellers,

including taking a Rapid Antigen Test within 24 hours of arrival and complying with the NSW Health guidelines, will be extended to unvaccinated travellers.

Public transport capacity caps will also be lifted with the requirement to wear masks on public transport, planes, and indoors at airports and cruise terminals to remain in place.

More information is available at: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/news/Pages/20220420_01.aspx

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