Victorian Public Service employees will begin returning to their offices next week, after the state recorded no new locally acquired COVID-19 cases for the eight day in a row.
Premier Daniel Andrews on Thursday announced that from Monday, January 18, the VPS will go back to their workplaces at 25% capacity per office, while the private sector will be able to increase to 50% capacity.
Chief health officer Brett Sutton has deemed the return to on-site office work as safe in light of no evidence of community transmission in the state and a new permit system, Andrews noted.
“This will be a massive boost not only for the office workplaces in the heart of Melbourne, but the cafes, restaurants, bars and shops that rely on their business — it will be fantastic to see the city coming alive again,” Andrews said in a statement.
Employers will be required to keep a record of all staff and visitors who attend the premises for longer than 15 minutes.
The state government was forced to delay the return to offices earlier this month, after Victoria recorded a string of new COVID-19 cases linked to the New South Wales outbreak. Victoria currently has 29 active cases of the virus.
The premier also announced relaxed rules regarding the wearing of masks. From 11:59pm on Sunday, January 17, masks will only be mandatory on domestic flights, at airports, in hospitals, on public transport, in commercial passenger vehicles, at supermarkets and at large indoor retail locations, including shopping centres.
Victorians should also wear a mask where physical distancing is not possible, the government has recommended.
“With the hottest part of summer approaching, I’m sure Victorians will be relieved to ease up on the mask wearing in some settings but please — always carry one with you, to keep yourself and your community safe,” health minister Martin Foley said.