Official restrictions for COVID-positive patients remain in place, but will be eased for people in New South Wales classified as close contacts, with health bureaucrats dropping the requirement they self-isolate.
In a statement, NSW health minister Brad Hazzard said close contacts must not visit any aged care, hospital, disability, and correctional facility settings. Close contacts were also required, where practicable, to take a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) before meeting people outside their household.
“We are still in a pandemic and the basic rules of hand hygiene, wearing a mask when you cannot socially distance and staying at home if you have symptoms still apply,” Hazzard said.
In NSW, a COVID-19 ‘close contact’ is defined as a household contact or any person who is determined to be so by health authorities.
From 6pm Friday, 22 April this group will no longer be subject to isolation requirements if they have no isolations and agree to comply with department guidelines.
The guidelines include wearing a face mask in any indoor setting (outside of the home), avoiding contact with elderly or immunocompromised people, and working from home where practical.
Close contacts will be required to adhere to the guidelines for seven days from the time a person in a close contact’s household tests positive for COVID-19.
Commenting on the new public health settings, NSW premier Dominic Perrottet said removing the self-isolation requirement for close contacts was a ‘common sense’ change. More restrictions would be eased as the state moved forward and out of the pandemic, he added, noting strong vaccination rates in NSW.
“This will provide immediate relief for so many workforces and businesses who have been hit hard by labour shortages as people are forced to isolate because they are a household contact,” Perrottet said.
“As the pandemic has evolved so has our response and this is another example where we have been able to make necessary changes safely and in a measured way.”
The NSW government plans to continue making RATs to help protect vulnerable cohorts in preparation for an anticipated uptick in COVID-19 cases during the winter months.
RATs will be distributed by agencies under the department of communities and justice for children and young people in out-of-home care, people living with a disability, vulnerable CALD communities and Aboriginal communities.
Further announcements for public health restrictions in school settings will be planned before Term 2 commences, with the government urging people aged 16 years and over to get their third booster three months after the date of their second vaccine shot.