Daniel Andrews has flagged the end of the close contact rule, with cases of the Omicron variant likely to have already peaked in the state.
For weeks, the Victorian premier has said the state’s isolation rules and vaccination requirements would be scrapped after the peak of the Omicron wave.
“The seven-day average, very pleasingly, is coming down. So that says to me that the peak has come and gone,” Andrews said on Tuesday.
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“We just have to wait and see that those few days of data turns into a trend that we hope it is.”
When asked about the isolation rules, Andrews said Health Minister Martin Foley would make some “positive announcements” very soon.
“We’ll get down to very, very few rules very soon,” he said.
“That’s good for business, good for communities and fundamentally a reflection of the amazing thing Victorians have done – gone and got vaccinated.”
Business groups have been calling for the easing of the seven-day isolation requirement for household contacts of people with COVID-19 to ease staff shortages.
Business NSW and the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry say the rules should be relaxed to allow close contacts to be allowed to work and undergo daily rapid antigen tests instead.
Business NSW chief executive Daniel Hunter said with such high vaccination rates, Australians had demonstrated a capacity to live and work with the virus.
“The current isolation rules are providing a barrier to businesses as healthy people are forced to isolate unnecessarily,” he said in a statement on Tuesday.
With NSW and Victorian airport workers now exempt from household contact rules, there was an “inconsistency and unfairness”.
“This needs to be fixed so that all businesses can have fair access to workers,” he said.
“Business needs certainty and we know that they are already struggling with supply chain issues and staff shortages.”
Victorian Chamber chief executive Paul Guerra said staff shortages continued to hamper business.
“We need to release the handbrake and enable businesses to operate at the maximum capacity possible and lead our economic recovery,” he said.
Multiple Victorian worker groups are already exempt from isolating as household close contacts, including education, emergency services, healthcare and transport staff.
NSW waiting for Victoria to ease rule
Victoria and NSW are the country’s two most populous states, but chief health officers from all seven states and territories sit on the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee, chaired by chief medical officer Professor Paul Kelly.
That committee is reviewing close contact isolation rules around the country.
The AHPPC said last month it supported phased changes to remove the routine quarantine requirements for all close contacts of positive cases, who are required to isolate for seven days even if they test negative.
The committee said at the time the appropriate time to implement changes would not be until after the anticipated peak of the COVID-19 BA.2 sub-variant of concern.
While it would prefer to have a consensus on changes, NSW will at least attempt to make any changes in line with Victoria if the other committee members don’t agree, a spokeswoman for NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard told AAP.
– With AAP