The ACT’s “low-level” public health measures – such as density limits, the mask mandate and the requirement to be seated while eating and drinking – will remain in place for another month.
In a move similar to NSW, the ACT Government will extend these measures to cover the return-to-school period. Authorities expect case numbers to increase as there is increased movement in the community.
The restrictions are now scheduled to come to an end on Friday, 25 February, although they will be reviewed in two weeks.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said increased movement and activity across the community is expected in the coming weeks as schools reopen and many people return to the office.
“The extension of these measures is a sensible step to mitigate virus transmission during a period of increased activity,” Mr Barr said.
“With the ongoing spread of COVID-19 in Australia, it is important that we continue to implement sensible measures locally to flatten the curve and protect those in our community who are most at risk of serious illness.”
It’s expected the use of rapid antigen tests at schools will provide a higher level of surveillance and will lead to significantly more asymptomatic cases being identified, Mr Barr noted.
“We have started to see cases stabilise in the past 10 days and we’ll use the next two weeks to closely monitor the situation, particularly around what a return to school and many of our regular routines means for case numbers.”
As a reminder, under the current measures, hospitality and licensed businesses (including cafes, bars, nightclubs, and indoor entertainment venues) need to continue to ensure patrons are seated while eating and drinking and dancing at these venues is not permitted.
Face masks are mandatory indoors, and businesses must follow prescribed density limits.
Last week, the government announced an extension of several existing business support measures as well as an additional round of funding for the Amp It Up! grant program.
Not all businesses are convinced this will be enough to see them through what’s been an extraordinarily difficult start to the year.
Canberrans are encouraged to work from home where possible in February.
Mr Barr said, while this is recommended, the government recognised some employees will need to return to the workplace to “meet their business needs or for their own wellbeing”.
Health authorities reminded people to get tested if they have symptoms and get a booster as soon as they are eligible.
“While our testing clinics experienced significant pressure earlier in the month, this has now eased and there’s plenty of capacity once again at the ACT Government’s testing clinics,” Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith said.
“All clinics now have adequate supplies to conduct PCR tests and the turnaround times for results are now down to between 24 to 48 hours.”
Further information is available on the ACT COVID-19 website.