IMAGE: Some restrictions will ease tonight for Victorians.
Victorians will see several of the state’s COVID-19 restrictions relax from 6pm tonight, with further changes expected next week.
When Premier Daniel Andrews announced the changes yesterday, he said the decision was made because the Omicron peak had passed, and case numbers were continuing to fall.
“This is exactly what we said we would do, we would have rules on for not a moment longer than they were needed,” he said.
Here’s what the changes will mean for you.
What restrictions are easing?
Density limits for hospitality and entertainment venues, which are currently set to one person per two squares metres, will be scrapped.
Density limits were reintroduced in Victoria on January 6, when only 12.7 per cent of the population was vaccinated with a third dose.
That rate is now 53 per cent, while 93 per cent are vaccinated with two doses.
Dancing at indoor venues will also be able to resume.
When the dancefloor closure was announced on January 10, there were 818 Victorians in hospital. But that number has since halved.
Another big change is the removal of the QR code check-in system for retail, including supermarkets, as well as in schools, childcare and early childhood education facilities, and at many workplaces.
They will remain in place for hospitality and entertainment venues, where attendees must be fully vaccinated, as part of the continuation of the “vaccinated economy”.
It will also become a bit easier for people to travel into Victoria from overseas.
International arrivals will no longer need to apply for a permit to enter the state, and unvaccinated travellers from overseas will have their quarantine periods reduced from 14 days to seven.
It will no longer be mandatory for industries including meat processing and hotel quarantine to employ surveillance testing using rapid antigen and PCR tests. The testing will instead be recommended.
Surveillance testing will continue to be recommended for schools, with the government extending its program supplying students with two rapid antigen tests each week to the end of term 1, in early April.
Hospital worker bubbles will no longer be required, but can still be used at the discretion of the health services.
What could change next week?
Workers who have been itching to get back to the office may be able to do so from next Friday, February 25.
Many Victorians have been encouraged to continue to work from home since COVID restrictions were first introduced early in 2020, and the official advice remains that where possible, people should work from home to reduce COVID-19 transmission risk.
But there are signs that recommendation, and the requirement for office workers to wear masks at work, may soon change.
Masks are still required for everyone aged eight and above in all indoor settings, unless in private homes or when food or drink is being consumed.
Health Minister Martin Foley said the government wanted to see how the easing of the first round of restrictions went before making further changes.
“We just need to see the next few days … this trend stabilise and continue, then we will be in a position next week, next Friday, to look at lifting mask requirements in offices and related settings,” he said.
Mr Foley said the proportion of Victorians who had received their third vaccine dose would also factor into the decision-making.
“We can continue this trend of positive news if everyone is fully-vaccinated and up-to-date with those vaccines,” he said.