The Victorian Government has announced further changes to the COVID-19 settings, alongside new testing requirements to help reduce waiting times for COVID-19 diagnosis and ensure faster access to clinical care.
New Pandemic Orders from 11:59pm on Thursday 6 January expand the use of rapid antigen (RA) tests. Victorians will now be able to use a RA test to confirm a positive case of COVID-19 and will no longer have to confirm this with a standard polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.
Additionally, the Government has made a number of changes to the COVID-19 settings including reintroducing a density quotient of one person per two square metres indoors across hospitality or entertainment venues.
While these do not apply to classrooms, office space or general areas of universities, TAFEs, adult education and other training providers, they do apply to publicly accessible hospitality venues within them such as any restaurants, cafés or entertainment venues.
The Government has extended the strong recommendation to work and study from home, if you can, until Australia Day, the 26 January 2022. Therefore, any learning and training activity that is taking place during this period should, where possible, be delivered remotely.
For those staff and students attending onsite for work and study, facemasks are required in all indoor settings except private homes for people aged 8 and over. This includes all higher education and training providers.
People who test positive on a RA test will be considered probable cases and be subject to the same requirements as person who tests positive to a PCR test – they must isolate immediately for seven days and notify their contacts.
This means that workers across our higher education sector no longer have to confirm a positive RA test by taking a PCR test.
If they test positive on a RA test, they must notify their workplace if they attended an indoor space there during their infectious period.
They must also report the result of a positive RA test to the Department of Health through an online form or by phone on 1800 675 398 . This ensures people can access the care, information and advice they need, including if their symptoms worsen or they need financial support for isolation.
Following notification of a positive case via a RA test, universities, TAFEs and other training and adult education organisations must continue to take reasonable steps to notify potentially exposed employees that they may have been exposed to COVID-19.
Where possible, universities, TAFEs and other training and adult education organisations should also notify any students who may be potentially exposed.
Anyone who has been exposed are strongly recommended to undertake 5 RA tests (one each day) from the date of notification. A positive result must be reported to their employer.
Anyone with symptoms can now use a RA test to ascertain whether they have COVID-19 or not. If they don’t have access to a RA test, then they can still get a PCR test to confirm whether they have COVID-19.
Universities, TAFEs and other training and adult education organisations must continue to collect, record and store the following information:
• A list of employees who have been notified that they may have been exposed, and
• The results of any COVID-19 test of those exposed persons (employees only).
All staff who are identified as an exposed person in universities, TAFEs and other training and adult education providers can return onsite if asymptomatic, or if symptomatic, if a negative RA/PCR test result has been received.
In line with National Cabinet, there will be further updates to contact management in coming days as more RA tests are available to assist with the testing of close contacts and symptomatic Victorians. We will continue to keep the higher education and training sector informed about any changes that affect them here.
If you are eligible for a booster shot, a third dose is critical to stopping the spread of the Omicron variant. Check COVID-19 booster vaccine eligibility to see when you are able to get your COVID-19 booster dose.
The Pfizer and Moderna vaccines are approved for use as booster vaccines and are considered equally acceptable. You can get a COVID-19 booster dose from a GP, pharmacy or Victorian vaccination centre.
For information about COVID-19 vaccines, including how to book (also for your child), vaccine eligibility and where to get your vaccination, please visit: coronavirus.vic.gov.au/vaccine. For up-to-date information about COVID-19 in Victoria please visit coronavirus.vic.gov.au.
We encourage that you share this information about booster doses to your staff and students. For those staff and students attending onsite for work and study, facemasks are still required in all indoor settings except private homes for people aged 8 and over. This includes all higher education and training providers.
For further information on current restrictions, visit coronavirus.vic.gov.au. It is the single destination for all Victorian COVID-19 information and resources, including information about higher education, TAFE and training providers, apprentices and trainees, and health and wellbeing.