The Victorian government has halved the isolation time required for primary close contacts of COVID-19 cases, effective 11.59pm Thursday October 21.
Instead of spending 14 days isolating, regardless of whether they test negative for the virus, people will only have to isolate for seven days. They will have to return negative COVID-19 tests on days one and six of their isolation period.
The change coincides with the state meeting its 70 per cent fully vaccinated threshold for people 16 and over, but conditions apply.
The change is only for fully vaccinated people and it only applies if the close contact was a social or work contact. If the close contact is a household member the 14 day isolation requirement remains in place.
COVID-19 Commander Jeroen Weimar said the household member isolation requirement wouldn't change "for the foreseeable future".
Victoria recorded 1903 new cases of COVID-19 and seven deaths.
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The number of people in hospital with COVID-19 climbed substantially from 777 to 851, the second biggest jump in hospitalisations for the outbreak after the figure spiked by 103 on Saturday.
There were 166 new cases in regional Victoria, which continues to contribute just under 10 per cent of new daily cases. Of the new regional cases, 38 were in Greater Geelong, but despite the outbreak continuing to grow, Mr Weimar said Barwon Health had the situation under control.
He congratulated Warrnambool for getting its outbreak from two weeks ago under control so swiftly.
"A shout out to them because they have been well-managed the community, (so) although we have seen cases in a number of workplaces and household type settings, swift contact tracing and support by local agencies has contained those quickly and we don't see any significant onward spread at this point in time," he said.
Mr Weimar said as vaccination rates continued to climb, the areas with lower rates were becoming more obvious and isolated.
He said there were now only three LGAs - Yarra, Stonnington and Port Phillip - with first dose rates below 80 per cent, and only three more - Maribyrnong, Darebin and Moreland - where rates were still below 85 per cent. All six LGAs are in inner Melbourne, within 5km of the CBD.
The Health Department data went even finer than that, with Mr Weimar saying there were around 25,000 people in specific pockets of those LGAs who had been identified as driving the lower rates and were being actively encouraged to get vaccinated.
He said since the state government announcement on Sunday revealing greater easing of restrictions, bookings for second vaccine doses had been "rocketing", with 31,000 people making an appointment.
Minister for Small Business Jaala Pulford announced $54 million in new support for businesses to transition more of their services outdoors.
Part of the support is a program of $2000 vouchers for businesses to purchase marquees, heating, screens and umbrellas. One in five of the vouchers will go to regional Victorian businesses.
"We have designed this in a way that these funds will be able to get to councils very, very quickly and they will need to provide us with a plan and account for what it is that they are doing with the funding but this is about making the support available within days to help our small businesses to recover and get back on their feet," Ms Pulford said.
Ms Pulford also confirmed only fully vaccinated people will be able to access particular businesses and services when restrictions change on Friday. She acknowledged there may be people caught out by the 70 per cent milestone arriving four days earlier than expected. She said all employees at businesses requiring patron vaccination would also have to be fully vaccinated.
Mr Weimar said the new requirements were tough on 12-15 year olds, who have only been eligible for vaccination for a matter of weeks, but he said there were "some common sense adjustments around that". The Standard is investigating the details.
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