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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Masks recommended in Victoria but no mandate as hospitalisation rates rise

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Victorians are being strongly advised to wear face masks indoors, but the State Government has stopped short of reintroducing a mandate.

In changes announced today, people who test positive to COVID-19 will be exempt from having to test again and isolate, for only four weeks rather than the previously instructed 12 weeks.

The changes, which come into effect from 11.59pm tonight, follow Australian Health Protection Principal Committee advice. 

Employers are also being asked to consider working from home arrangements for their employees, although no recommendation has been issued. 

An advertising blitz promoting COVID-19 vaccine boosters will also start across the state, while more grants are available to small businesses who want to buy ventilators. 

The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry says it is sensible the changes are recommendations rather than mandates.

“This puts the decision-making back on the individual and businesses,” chief executive Paul Guerra said in a statement.

“This is a commonsense approach which enables people to make their own decisions to protect their health, the health of their clients and their family and friends.”

It comes as Victoria records 10,627 new COVID-19 cases and a further 16 deaths on Tuesday, with hospitalisation rates continuing to rise.

There are 737 people in hospital with the virus, up 20 from Monday and almost 200 over the past week.

Thirty-nine COVID-infected people are in intensive care, with seven on a ventilator.

COVID-19 hospitalisations in Victoria peaked at 1229 in mid-January during the original Omicron wave.

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