Friday, May 31, 2024

Victoria to ease Covid restrictions on Friday

The Victorian government has announced adjustments to the current Covid-19 restrictions in the state.

From 6pm Friday, 18 February, density quotients of one person per 2sqm in place at hospitality venues will be removed, QR code check-in requirements will no longer be in place at retail venues (but will remain in all ‘vaccinated economy’ settings including hospitality) and mandatory surveillance testing for key industries including meat processing will be become recommended-only.

Premier Daniel Andrews said: “We always said these measures wouldn’t be in place for a minute longer than they are needed, and with hospitalisation numbers decreasing and less pressure on our health system, now is a sensible time to make changes.

“We’re grateful to everyone who has been doing the right thing, helping to reduce the impact of this virus on the community, our healthcare system and our economy.”

Easing pandemic protocols key to business confidence

Australian Retailers Association (ARA) CEO Paul Zahra said the removal of QR codes for Victorian retail is an encouraging step towards living with Covid and called for the indoor mask mandate for office workers to be scrapped next – an important requirement for the revival of the Melbourne CBD.

“We thank the Victorian Government for the easing of restrictions announced today and we’re looking forward to health measures being relaxed further in the coming days,” Mr Zahra said.

“Today’s changes are a show of good faith to business and the community that pandemic protocols will be removed when it’s safe to do so. Confidence is currency for business – and removing some of the barriers to entry of a retail store and hospitality venue help restore a sense of wellbeing for customers and their teams.”

The ARA is focused on the removal of the mask mandate, which Mr Zahra says is serving as a “massive disincentive” for getting people back into the office, impacting CBD foot traffic and businesses.

“CBDs are a concern across the country, and Melbourne in particular – our capital cities a far cry from the thriving hubs they were once before,” Mr Zahra said.

“The pandemic has fundamentally changed the way our city’s function and we need to look at bold ideas to inject them with new life.”

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