New density restrictions in Victoria

File photo

Alyssa Fritzlaff and Stefan Bradley

New density quotients were announced for hospitality and entertainment venues today, as well as changes to rapid antigen testing requirements.

Health Minister Martin Foley announced that hospitality and entertainment venues will have new restrictions from 11:59pm tonight. From this time they will have to operate with a one person per two square metres density quotient indoors.

The changes will apply to restaurants, cafés, pubs, nightclubs, arcades, amusement parks, casinos and gaming venues.

However, indoor seated cinemas and theatres will not be subjected to density limits due to seating and mask wearing standards.

“There’s nothing wrong with seeing your family and friends at hospitality venues… these measures we hope will facilitate both the continued operation of the hospitality sector, while at the same time encouraging greater activity outdoors,” said Minister Foley.

“In addition, we will reiterate the very strong recommendation to businesses and to their patrons when it comes to avoiding indoor dance floors and opting for seated service.”

“We will also continue a strong recommendation that if you can work from home or indeed study from home that you should, and all of these orders will continue to be under active monitoring,” he added.

Changes were also made to rapid antigen testing rules – which will be considered probable COVID-19 cases from tonight.

Acting Chief Health Officer Ben Cowie explained the changes to rapid antigen test requirements.

“People who have a positive rapid antigen test will be considered as probable cases of COVID-19 and subject to the same requirements as people who have a confirmed diagnosis through PCR, they must isolate immediately for seven days and notify their contacts.”

“It will also be mandatory for those individuals to report the positive rapid antigen test result to the Department of Health through either an online form or by phone,” he said.

The online and phone reporting system will go live tomorrow.

It is strongly recommended that if possible you undertake a rapid antigen test prior to visiting aged care facilities or hospitals.

Non-urgent elective surgery will temporarily be reduced for public and private hospitals in Melbourne and major regional cities across Victoria.

All emergency surgery and urgent elective surgery will continue.

Today, Victoria reported 21,997 new cases of COVID-19 and six deaths. There are 631 people in hospital, an increase of 40 from yesterday.

“It is clear is that be are in a new phase of this pandemic and a new phase in how we need to respond,” said Minister Foley.