A reminder again how quickly things can develop during this pandemic. To keep our members informed, SIV has provided a summary of state and Federal support available to industry with links to key information. Please appreciate that this is a rapidly evolving situation so the information contained is based on what is current and will be updated as more information is released.
COVID-19 Update - Sensible winter setting to keep Victorians safe The Victorian Government is providing Victorians with more advice on how they can protect themselves and their families this winter, with enhanced communications, community engagement and outreach, and support for business to keep customers and workers safe and their doors open.
The Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants, which are now dominant along the east coast of Australia, are expected to continue to cause increases in new cases, reinfections and hospital admissions – with a 53 per cent increase in the number of Victorians in hospital with COVID-19 over the last two weeks.
There is also an increase in respiratory illnesses like cold and flu which, along with COVID-19, are putting additional pressure on hospitals and healthcare workers across the country.
In recognition of this next phase of the pandemic and as part of the plan to protect the healthcare system, sensible changes to pandemic orders and public health recommendations will come into place at 11:59pm 12 July 2022, to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 and ensure Victorians are aware of proactive steps they can take to look after themselves and each other.
In line with Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPCC) advice, the period when someone is considered a recently confirmed case (and therefore exempt from testing and isolation/quarantine requirements) has been revised to four weeks, down from 12 weeks. This reflects the emerging evidence that new variants of COVID-19 can evade prior immunity gained from infection.
Positive cases are still required to isolate for seven days from the day they took their test but an additional reason to leave home has been added – to provide transport for a household member to obtain food, if essential. The infected person will need to remain in the car and wear a face covering at all times.
A significant new investment will boost public health messaging and engagement efforts with the community to encourage third and fourth COVID-19 vaccination doses, flu vaccination, the benefits of wearing a mask and maximizing ventilation indoors. The Stay Well in Winter campaign will run across TV, radio, outdoor and digital channels. This investment will support community leaders and business to encourage the uptake of sensible, preventative actions to keep well this winter.
The Government is also announcing another round of its SmallBusiness Ventilation Grant Program to help businesses invest in equipment that will keep their workers and customers safe in indoor settings.
Mask wearing in indoor and crowded settings is strongly recommended to protect yourself and the most vulnerable Victorians through winter – but there will not be any changes to current face mask requirements with these new pandemic orders.
The Minister for Health is also requesting that employers consider working from home arrangements that are most appropriate for their workplace and employees based on individual requirements.
All Victorians are encouraged to make sure they are up to date with vaccinations, wear a good quality face mask, try to maintain good ventilation indoors and get a test if feeling unwell with COVID-19 symptoms.
Important information for businesses The Victorian Government is offering a free support service for small to medium businesses to ensure your COVIDSafe Plan is up to date and reflects current COVIDSafe Settings. To attend one of the information forums, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact management tool An online tool has been developed to help businesses manage a positive COVID-19 case in the workplace. The tool measures potential exposure risk and provides instant advice on steps to protect workers and customers. Businesses are asked up to six questions. The tool is in addition to information and advice at coronavirus.vic.gov.au/case-workplace.
There is no longer a requirement to notify WorkSafe of a positive case in the workplace. Businesses do not need to inform customers about a positive case or conduct a deep clean of the premises.
Stay COVIDSafe Wear your mask correctly – covering your mouth and nose Get tested immediately if you are ill When open, make sure everyone checks in everywhere, every time Update your COVIDSafe Plan Support your workers to get vaccinated when they’re eligible.