30 September 2022

Public health emergency is over: mask, vax mandate scrapped

| Lottie Twyford
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Discarded mask

The public health emergency declaration has been replaced with a pandemic management one. Photo: File.

More than two-and-a-half years since it was first declared in the Territory, the ACT’s public health emergency has come to an end, taking a number of remaining COVID-19 rules and restrictions with it.

Face masks are no longer mandatory on public transport, broad vaccine mandates no longer apply for aged and disability care settings, and household contacts don’t need to register their status with ACT Health.

COVID-19 safety plans are no longer required for ACT businesses.

As foreshadowed by Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith last month, the Territory’s PCR testing regime will be scaled back.

Testing centres have experienced a drop-off in demand as caseloads have dropped in the last two months.

covid test

The Kambah COVID-19 testing centre will permanently close at 4 pm this afternoon. Photo: Canberra Health Services.

The Kambah COVID-19 testing centre will permanently close at 4 pm today (30 September) and the operating hours of the other centres will be reduced from tomorrow (Saturday, 1 October).

Testing will be available at Garran from 10 am to 6:30 pm, Mitchell from 8 am to 2 pm and Holt from 8 am to 4 pm.

PCR testing will be prioritised for those who are most at-risk of serious disease, the ACT Government said.

This includes those who work in high-risk settings, have a referral from a GP, are unable to use a RAT or have completed a negative RAT and are symptomatic.

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A COVID-19 management declaration is replacing the public health emergency declaration.

Those new laws allow the government to implement some public health restrictions and give it the legislative power to tighten these if the situation changes.

The management declaration is in force until 29 December 2022.

Under these new conditions, people who test positive for the virus are still required to register the result with ACT Health, report it to their employer and household contacts and quarantine for five days.

Face masks are mandatory for two days upon leaving isolation.

Quarantine is also mandatory for seven days for household contacts unless they can follow risk mitigation strategies.

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Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the community had responded incredibly well in its fight against COVID-19 since early 2020.

“This is the next stage in our COVID-19 response. There will need to be ongoing support for Canberrans who are most vulnerable to COVID-19, and a mechanism that allows the government to swiftly implement the public health measures that have proven to be highly successful in suppressing the virus in the Territory,” Mr Barr said.

COVID-19 caseloads, hospitalisations and vaccination data are now reported weekly on Fridays by ACT Health.

More information about the COVID-19 situation in the Territory is available online.

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CaptainSpiff9:45 pm 30 Sep 22

Health minister finally calls time on the Covid cult.

Will we now have an accounting of all the damage done by Covid prevention policies, and the complete lack of any meaningful outcomes? Covid has spread through the entire community, as any sensible person could predict, and excess deaths give the lie to Australia having done “better” than other nations.

500 billion dollars printed since 2020, with inflation predictably running amok. Who knows how many lives and livelihoods ruined. The wholesale destruction of public health credibility. Even the health minister herself now acknowledges that the Covid jabs are useless at preventing Covid, with the mandates dropped even for aged care workers. And yet not long ago people were being fired and scorned for not taking those same jabs.

Seriously, what was it all for?

This is logical and makes sense for the majority who are not at high risk if they get covid.

It does restrict the activities and outings of those at high risk, who are likely to become isolated and depressed as they stay home to stay safe. As there are often few symptoms of covid, no-one knows who has it and is contagious much of the time, so prevention is hard.

The other problem is long covid which is disabling people for months and years, with high levels of disability for those unlucky people who get it. It’s already major problem overseas and becoming more obvious here, looking very much like CFS / ME which also follows on from virus infections for a certain proportion of people.

With a greater chance of being exposed to the virus, rates of illness will be higher whether or not this is tested and documented. Many people don’t bother now. This illness will reduce the available workforce and keep many people home. Letting it run rampant doesn’t seem smart. Most health professionals advise more efforts at containing the virus, but politicians are under pressure from business owners and people who want their freedom to act without restrictions.

It’s been overkill since the beginning. None of the NPIs ever had any solid evidence behind them, and we’ll be living with the consequences for years, probably decades.

NPI? What does a National Pollutant Inventory have to do with covid? There is good and longstanding (more than 100 years) evidence for the effectiveness of the health restrictions at reducing contagion, illness, disability and death, as well as in reducing the costs to the economy.

“Non-Pharmacological Intervention”

https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s40592-022-00163-7

There remains little evidence that lockdowns were worth the cost. Which is why no one recommended them in their pandemic plans prior to 2020. There remains little evidence that community masking is effective. Similarly for border closures (shutting down travel to South Africa when they reported on the discovery of Omicron was a travesty).

Donald Henderson, the person who led the campaign to eradicate smallpox, wrote about pandemic planning before he died.

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/17238820/

I’m sure your enjoying the cost of lockdown crisis that’s just getting started. Not to mention the mental, physical and spiritual costs we’ve imposed on the population. All for nothing, looking at the excess deaths numbers the ABS has been publishing for this year. It was always obvious that this virus would eventually be endemic. What we did was temporarily protect the laptop class at extraordinary cost to the global economy. Most of what we did was theatre, similar to all the anti-terrorism laws that came in after the World Trade Centre attack. Sadly far more damaging to the long term flourishing of the population of earth than that was. The “cure” was far worse than the disease.

On the day that some of our restrictions are eased, Dominic Perrottet intends to push for National Cabinet to remove Covid isolation entirely!

10 days ago, my wife returned from visiting family and that evening, tested positive. She immediately went into full iso – separate bathroom etc. 3 days later, having had virtually no contact with her, I tested positive.

Today is day 6. I’m allowed to leave iso. I’m not required to test negative. I just need to wear a mask for 2 days. I’m still sick!

Dominic Perrottet’s proposal to scrape Covid isolation periods is dangerous. I hope that National Cabinet rejects his proposal and defers that decision at least until the Omicron variant vaccines are available.

Finally I understand their rationale. They want to stop paying people to go into isolation and they have to pay them for it if it’s mandated. Remove the mandate and remove the need for the state to pay people for time off work. It’ll fall back on employers.

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