16 December 2021

COVID restrictions to ease for domestic travel into the ACT

| Max O'Driscoll
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Qantas aircraft

From 11:59 pm there will be no restrictions on travel into the ACT. Photo: Qantas.

The ACT Government has announced what it believes will be its final restrictions ahead of the Christmas period. Central to the changes are the shortening of the quarantine period for fully vaccinated close contacts of Omicron cases and the end of restrictions on domestic travel from 11:59 pm tonight (15 December).

With the changes to restrictions, fully vaccinated Omicron close contacts will now only require seven days of quarantine from their exposure, instead of the 14 that had been required. This aligns with fully vaccinated close contacts of non-Omicron COVID-19 cases.

Close contacts will still need to be tested on entry into quarantine, and on day six and day 13 after exposure, but from days eight to 14 they will be able to be outside in the community.

Unvaccinated close contacts of any COVID-19 variant will still require 14 days of quarantine.

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Acting Chief Health Officer Dr Vanessa Johnston stressed the importance of “positive COVID-safe behaviours” in the second-week post-exposure, which included the prior recommendation to avoid hospitals and aged care facilities, in addition to possible super-spreader events such as nightclubs and festivals.

“I think it’s for people to use common sense. No, I don’t think it’s for people to avoid the extended family gathering,” said Dr Johnston.

“You might want to consider if your elderly grandmother’s there; you might want to consider mask-wearing.”

All remaining high-risk geographical areas have been removed for domestic travellers, meaning no declarations or exemptions will be required from 11:59 pm tonight. Those who become close contacts interstate will need to check ACT Health for updates about what is required to re-enter the ACT.

No changes have been made for international travellers arriving in the ACT, who will still require three days of quarantine. Travellers from the high-risk African countries, which previously required 14 days of quarantine, will now be brought into line with all international travellers and only require three days’ quarantine.

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Dr Johnston said public health directives in response to Omicron would continue to be guided by its impact locally unless there is an emergence of a “significant signal of increased inherent, more severe disease”.

After the government decreased the required period between a person’s second dose of a vaccine and a booster shot from six to five months, both Turner and Gungahlin pop-up vaccination clinics were forced to close on the weekend due to long queues.

Dr Johnston said this was not a matter of supply across the Territory, but rather the impact of not knowing how much demand there would be.

In the ACT, 98.3 per cent of the 12-plus population is now fully vaccinated. Seven new cases were confirmed by ACT Health today, bringing the total active cases in the Territory to 61, of which 13 are the Omicron variant.

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