Victoria to scrap quarantine for fully vaccinated NSW residents amid 2,179 COVID-19 tally

NSW residents who are fully vaccinated will be able to enter Victoria without needing to undergo quarantine upon arrival.

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley speaks to the media during a press conference in Melbourne.

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley speaks to the media during a press conference in Melbourne. Source: AAP

From Tuesday, Victoria will scrap quarantine requirements for the fully vaccinated in NSW. 

"Given the very high vaccination status of both states, these are sensible measures to get us gradually and safely to a measured reopening," Health Minister Martin Foley said. 

It comes as the state records 2,179 new COVID-19 cases and six deaths. The total number of active cases now sits at 21,324.

In the last 24 hours, 73,942 COVID-19 tests were returned.

The Victorian government described the changes as the most significant overhaul to the travel permit system since it was introduced in January 2021. 

"Victoria and New South Wales have been through so much over the last few months, and we're pleased that more families will now be able to reunite and more people will be able to travel in a safe way," Mr Foley said. 

From 11.59pm on 19 October, fully vaccinated people - including non-Victorian residents - who have been in New South Wales red zones will not be required to quarantine for 14 days upon arrival. 

There are some conditions. Travellers must have tested negative within 72 hours of arriving in the state.

They will have to isolate on arrival and receive a negative test result within 72 hours.

The quarantine period will remain for unvaccinated travellers. 

"As the risk profile between the two states changes and as we get both states moving towards a more integrated reopening position, we have got further announcements to make as to how that will work," Mr Foley said.

Vaccinated arrivals into Melbourne from NSW will not have to quarantine for 14 days.
Source: Sipa USA Alexander Bogatyrev / SOPA Image

Rules will be relaxed for fully vaccinated people arriving from "orange zones", who will no longer be required to get tested.

Rules will be easier for fully vaccinated people arriving from 'orange zones', who will no longer be required to get tested and isolate and will only need a valid permit.

Those who are unvaccinated will still be required to test and isolate before a negative result.

The Victorian announcement come an hour after New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet revealed the state intends to relax its international border restrictions for vaccinated travellers from 1 November.

Mr Foley said he did not have concerns that overseas arrivals may exploit the relaxed state borders to avoid quarantining in the state.

"Good on New South Wales. I can't speak for what their thinking is," he told reporters, noting international borders are a matter for the Commonwealth.

"Our quarantine system will continue to evolve as our vaccination levels grow and as double-dosed returnees return to Australia, be they Australians, be they others, in accordance with the National Cabinet plan."

He told reporters the state government would proceed with building the Mickleham quarantine facility, co-founded by the federal government.

"As we reopen to the world, there are high-risk communities from around the world who will want to come back to Australia," Mr Foley said.

"There will be a range of measures in all the joint national-state [quarantine] facilities that we will still see a real need for." 

Vaccine mandate comes into effect 

A COVID-19 vaccine mandate has come into effect for Victorian authorised workers. They will now need their first dose or a scheduled booking to keep working on-site.

The Victorian government gave the state's 1.25 million authorised workers a fortnight to get at least their first coronavirus vaccination by Friday - or show proof of a booking within the next week - otherwise, they would be stood down.

Victoria to reopen border for vaccinated NSW residents

They must then be fully vaccinated by 26 November with limited medical exemptions.

When the mandate was announced, most authorised workers in the state had already been partially vaccinated but it was estimated hundreds of thousands had not.

The public health order covers retail workers, personal trainers, journalists, faith leaders, judges, police, lawyers, actors, professional sportspeople and many other professions.

Victoria posts a record 2,297 new COVID-19 cases

Mr Foley dismissed concerns the mandate could lead to staff shortages in essential areas.

He expects only a few hundred essential workers to lose their jobs after refusing to get vaccinated.

"What we see is all the employers in those organisations having strategies in place to deal with this. The best strategy is to continue to encourage and support people to come forward and get vaccinated," he said.

Tim Piper, the Victorian head of the peak employer association Ai Group, said "V-Day" was creating huge issues with businesses reporting workers are refusing to get vaccinated.

"The workers have often been in their jobs for many years [and] they may be key people in the business," Mr Piper said.

"Skilled and experienced employees are at a premium and some businesses are at their wits' end trying to decide what to do."

He reminded employers they must send the staff home if they don't comply with the order, and employees are not entitled to be paid unless they agree to take any accrued annual leave or long service leave.

Parliamentary mandate triggers heated debate

A motion to ban unvaccinated MPs and staff from entering state parliament - an Australian-first and in line with the authorised worker mandate - passed both houses on Thursday.

A government motion passed the upper house on Thursday evening 31 votes to four, after more than two hours of fierce debate and failed amendments from the Liberal Democrats and independent MP Catherine Cumming.

All members and staff will now have to prove they have received at least one dose of a vaccine by Friday to continue working on-site, or have an appointment booked before 22 October.

They will also need to have their second dose by 26 November.

The motion passed the lower house on Thursday morning with the support of all but one MP, Liberal Neil Angus, who argued the requirement to show proof of the jab was "undemocratic" and "medical apartheid".

During his speech, Mr Angus cited Dr Simone Gold, who leads a group pushing misinformation about COVID-19 vaccines and who was charged for taking part in the 6 January attack on the US Capitol.

Mr Angus is the only MP in the Liberal party room who isn't vaccinated, and Opposition Leader Matthew Guy has conceded he won't be able to convince him to get the jab.

Published 15 October 2021 at 9:21am, updated 15 October 2021 at 12:43pm
Source: AAP - SBS