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Thursday, June 30, 2022

Victoria’s easing of restrictions will have little impact on state’s aged care sector

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While Victorian premier Daniel Andrews might have announced today that a raft of restrictions will be lifted for fully vaccinated Victorians from 11:59pm tonight, there will be no material changes for those living within and visiting residential aged care facilities.

Five will remain the maximum number of visitors allowed per day, with the explicit provision that dependents may visit for “any reason”, as opposed to the previous requirement of caregiving.

Masks will remain compulsory during visits to RACFs, but vaccination is still only “strongly recommended” for visitors in residential aged care, despite the fact that unvaccinated Victorians will be barred from most public venues, including all non-essential retail, at the stroke of midnight tonight.

A spokesperson from the Victorian health department told Aged Care News that this instruction is due to the fact that the Federal Government has ultimate responsibility over policy within aged care settings.

“Aged care visitors are strongly recommended to be vaccinated,” the spokesperson said.

“This is in line with the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) recommendations, which strongly encourages all visitors, aged 12 and over, to aged care facilities be vaccinated.”

The health minister, Martin Foley, said that the decision signals a move towards COVID-normal whilst recognising the ongoing risk to vulnerable sub-sets of the community.  

“By focusing on high-risk settings, cases and contacts – and safely removing rules that could sweep hundreds of thousands of people into long quarantine at any one time – Victoria is charting a path for the rest of Australia for how to live with COVID-19 as a manageable endemic when cases inevitably increase nationwide.”

Despite 84.2 per cent of Australians over the age of 16 being double vaccinated across the country, a number of outbreaks have continued to infiltrate aged care facilities.

The latest federal health department data shows there to be 34 active COVID outbreaks in RACFs across the country, with 313 residents and 98 members of staff still actively battling the virus.

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