Important changes to COVID isolation and mask rules announced after national cabinet

Mandatory mask wearing on domestic flights and seven-day isolation will be scrapped next week as COVID-19 restrictions ease across the country.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced after the national cabinet on Wednesday afternoon that much-detested COVID-19 requirements would fall from September 9.

Mandatory isolation will be reduced from seven to five days for those without symptoms, allowing those with precautions to return to work sooner.

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But Albanese said the seven-day deadline for workers in high-risk environments, including elderly care and disabled care, will remain in place on the advice of the chief health officer.

“If you have symptoms, we want people to stay home. We want people to act responsibly,” he said.

“This was an appropriate response at this point in the pandemic.”

The move is a welcome change for state premiers who have joined forces to push for a national reduction in the mandatory isolation period.

Masks will also no longer be required on domestic flights from next Friday, bringing the flights in line with requirements in domestic terminals, where mandatory face coverings were abandoned in mid-June – similar to the easing of mandates in most settings across the country.

Pandemic Payments

Albanese said the eligibility for the $750 emergency pandemic leave payments would be updated to reflect the change to five days, but would not reveal whether the financial assistance would be extended.

The measure was originally due to end on June 30 but was extended for a further three months due to backlash from communities struggling during Australia’s omicron wave.

Albanese said the national cabinet will meet again within weeks to decide whether to extend the payment beyond September.

“We’re going to work through these issues as a general view that we need to make sure people who need care are being cared for… so we’re meeting in two weeks,” he said.

Asked why Australia doesn’t “trust” people to take care of their own health and stay home if they feel it necessary, Albanese reiterated the reduced isolation time.

“We will continue to review these issues and consider what restrictions are appropriate at each point in time,” he added.

Pet alligator walked around the park on a leash

Pet alligator walked around the park on a leash Important changes to COVID isolation and mask rules announced after national cabinet

James Brien

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