Families visiting loved ones in NSW aged care homes will no longer have to be vaccinated for COVID-19, under changes approved by the state’s chief health officer.
The relaxation of visiting rules comes into effect from Monday, after Dr Kerry Chant signed off on changes to the public health order.
However, individual aged care facilities can choose to keep vaccination requirements for visitors, while staff will still be required to be fully jabbed.
Visitor limits, which were set at two adults and two children a day, are also being scrapped, with that requirement downgraded to a recommendation.
Facilities will have to consider guidance from Chant in managing visitors, including screening and rapid antigen tests, as well as making use of outdoor spaces for visits.
The changes bring vaccination requirements into line with rules in place in Queensland and Victoria, NSW Health said in a statement on Thursday.
“However, NSW Health continues to urge all visitors to stay up to date with their vaccinations, as this will give them the greatest protection against severe illness,” the statement said.
Vaccination rates among staff and residents of aged care facilities remain high, NSW Health said.
The change in aged care regulations follows Chant’s warning last week the state was headed for a third wave of COVID-19 infections, with cases expected to surge to levels last seen in January.
She urged everyone to keep up to date with vaccinations.
“The virus has changed … we need three, or in some cases four, doses to provide the best protection against getting very sick,” Chant said last week.
On Thursday, 36 COVID-related deaths were reported in NSW, along with 14,235 cases.
More than 2000 people are in hospital with the virus, with 56 of those in intensive care.