Vaccine changes for workers

Minister of Health Martin Foley announced the changes on 10 January. Picture: AAP.

By Parker McKenzie

The Victorian state government has announced further changes to “high-risk” healthcare and hospitality settings in response to huge growth of coronavirus cases numbers in the state disrupting supply chains.

Under new pandemic orders Upper Yarra workers in healthcare, aged care, disability, emergency services, correctional facilities, quarantine accommodation and food distribution workers will be required to get their third dose of a Covid-19 vaccine before they can return to work on site.

Workers eligible for a booster shot on or before Wednesday 12 January will be required to receive their third dose by Saturday 12 February. Those not yet eligible for their third dose will be required to receive it within three months and two weeks of the deadline to receive their mandatory second vaccine.

In hospitality and entertainment venues, indoor dance floors have been ordered to close. Venues can still operate with no changes to new density limits announced last week.

Minister for Health Martin Foley said the changes were a sensible extension of the already existing vaccination requirements and would ensure vulnerable community members are protected.

“Victoria is open and the community is encouraged to support businesses in a Covid-safe way. Closing indoor dancefloors is a simple but important step, we know they pose an extraordinary risk of mass transmission,” he said.

“No setting is more vulnerable than hospitals and aged care, and that’s why visitors to hospitals will be required to have received two doses of the COVID-19 vaccine or return a negative rapid antigen test.”

Workers in the manufacturing, distribution or packaging of food and beverages including retail supermarket workers may be exempted from close contact requirements in order to attend work if they are necessary for continued operation.

Exempted workers must be asymptomatic, undertake daily rapid antigen tests for five days and return a negative result prior to attending work.

Workers who are close contacts will not be able to enter shared break areas and must wear a mask. Both the worker and the workplace must consent to the worker’s return.

All the announced changes will take effect from 11.59pm Wednesday 12 January.