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Covid-19 close contact and mask rules rolled back

Holly Hales, April 26, 2022 7:00PM Kids News

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Victorian kids can finally ditch masks in class – unless they’re a household contact of a positive Covid case, in which case they need to wear a mask indoors. Pictured last August are Victorian students Zara and Frankie, both aged 7 at the time, and Sophie, then 11. Picture: Nicki Connolly media_cameraVictorian kids can finally ditch masks in class – unless they’re a household contact of a positive Covid case, in which case they need to wear a mask indoors. Pictured last August are Victorian students Zara and Frankie, both aged 7 at the time, and Sophie, then 11. Picture: Nicki Connolly

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Victoria and NSW have scrapped most of their remaining Covid-19 rules, with household contacts no longer needing to isolate.

The major shift comes as both states are believed to have passed the peak of their latest Omicron surges.

No longer do people living with a positive coronavirus case have to isolate at home for seven days, unless they test positive themselves.

The changes came into effect at midnight on Friday in Victoria and 6pm on the same day in NSW.

Queensland will also remove its household close contact isolation rules from 6pm on Thursday, April 28.

In Victoria, household contacts now have to wear a mask indoors and avoid sensitive settings, such as hospitals and aged care facilities

Household contacts also need to carry out five rapid antigen tests over the course of the seven days that they previously would have spent in isolation.

People who contract Covid-19 still need to isolate for a week.

Masks are no longer required in primary schools.

Kids in Masks media_cameraPhotographed at Sandringham last August, Victorians Zara, Frankie – both aged seven at the time – and Sophie, then 11, are among students now free of masks in class, unless they are the close contact of a Covid-19 case. Picture: Nicki Connolly

And the lockout of unvaccinated Victorians has also ended, with people no longer required to show their vaccination status before entering venues.

All visitor restrictions in hospitals have also been removed, except for mask requirements, with health services able to tailor their own settings based on their own circumstances.

The NSW government announced similar rule changes.

Premier Dominic Perrottet made the announcement last Wednesday, with mask requirements on public transport one of the only restrictions to remain.

The updated restrictions for close contacts include not visiting aged care, hospitals, disability and correctional* facilities unless they receive an exemption*.

PREMIER PRESSER media_cameraNSW Premier Dominic Perrottet in Sydney on April 20. Picture: Christian Gilles

Close contacts in NSW now need to wear a mask indoors when outside their home and take a rapid test before seeing people not in their household.

Mr Perrottet said the changes came after a “very difficult two years” for people across NSW.

“I want to emphasise* that obviously the pandemic isn’t over,” he said.

“There is a long way to go but we’ve made changes in consultation with the business community and union representatives.

“And because of the efforts that everyone has made, we’re able today to make some further changes.”

QLD_CP_NEWS_CLAYTON'S_LOCKDOWN_06JAN22 media_cameraIsolating close contacts of Covid-19 cases has made it very difficult for industries like retail and hospitality to operate. Queensland boutique owner Dameon Jamie and customer Kathy Walker will not have to isolate if they are close contacts of a positive case after 6pm on Thursday, April 28. Picture: Brendan Radke

The overhaul came in response to recent pressure on the Victorian and NSW governments to relax their Covid rules.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews had earlier hinted that the rules would change, pointing to a decline in the seven-day case average for Covid-19 infections.

“I’m not the chief health officer, but that says to me that the peak has come and gone,” Mr Andrews said.

Daily Covid-19 cases in Victoria now sit under an average of 9000, with about 440 people in hospital. Cases in NSW have fallen to an average of 14,000 daily infections, with 1600 people in hospital.

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee last week called for Covid-19 restrictions to be relaxed.

Dan Andrews media_cameraVictorian Premier Daniel Andrews pictured in Melbourne last month. Picture: David Crosling

Some industries are already exempt from some isolation rules, such as aviation and airport workers.

Tasmania and South Australia have indicated they could ease their close contact isolation rules within weeks in line with Victoria, NSW and Queensland. The seven-day isolation requirement is also in place in the Northern Territory and Western Australia.

GLOSSARY

  • correctional: relating to the punishment and imprisonment of criminals
  • exemption: exception, freedom from a rule, indemnity
  • emphasise: to give special importance or value to something in speaking or writing

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QUICK QUIZ

  1. Where do Victorian household contacts have to wear a mask?
  2. Name two industries that were already exempt from some isolation rules?
  3. How many rapid antigen tests do Victorian close contacts now have to do in a week?
  4. What is the average daily infection rate in NSW?
  5. Do close contacts of positive cases in Queensland currently have to isolate?

LISTEN TO THIS STORY

CLASSROOM ACTIVITIES
1. Covid hotline
Complete this role-play activity with a partner. One partner is to act as a member of the public who has a question about Covid (that can be answered from the information in the news story). The other partner should play the role of a call centre operator on the Covid hotline. Can the operator give the caller the correct advice to answer their question? Practise using a clear phone voice, using professional language and avoid using filler sounds and words such as “umm”, “ahh” and “like”.

Swap roles so that each partner gets a turn being the operator.

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Personal and Social Capability; Health and Physical Education

2. Extension
Think of three queries that you believe would be “Frequently Asked Questions” to the Covid Hotline about restrictions. Write a short, precise answer for each question.

Time: allow 15 minutes to complete this activity
Curriculum Links: English; Health and Physical Education

VCOP ACTIVITY
1. Summarise the article
A summary is a brief statement of the main points of something. It does not usually include extra detail or elaborate on the main points.

Use the 5W & H model to help you find the key points of this article. Read the article carefully to locate who and what this article is about, and where, when, why and how this is happening. Once you have located this information in the article, use it to write a paragraph that summarises the article.

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