Changes to ACT Government Covid public health response

After more than two and a half years, the ACT’s Public Health Emergency Declaration has been revoked and the Government has transitioned the Territory’s public health response to COVID-19 to a COVID‑19 Management Declaration and associated Directions.

The COVID‑19 Management Declaration recognises the need to provide ongoing surveillance and management of the virus as we continue to transition to living with COVID‑19.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the ACT community had responded incredibly well in its fight against COVID-19 since the public health emergency was declared in March 2020.

“This is the next stage in our COVID-19 response. There will need to be ongoing support for Canberrans who are most vulnerable to COVID-19, and a mechanism that allows the Government to swiftly implement the public health measures that have proven to be highly successful in suppressing the virus in the Territory,” Chief Minister Barr said.

Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith said that some public health measures will remain to help ensure we continue to protect those in our community who are most at risk of severe health outcomes from COVID-19.

“The new COVID-19 settings are part of our staged plan to managing COVID-19 in a similar way to other infectious diseases like influenza,” Minister Stephen-Smith said.

“Canberrans should be reassured that if there is any significant development in relation to COVID-19, we will continue to take appropriate actions to keep our community safe, just as we have throughout the pandemic.”

Changes that came into effect today include:

  • Face masks no longer need to be worn on public and shared transport such as buses, light rail, taxis and ride share. ACT Health continues to recommend people wear a mask if it isn’t possible to physically distance.
  • Household contacts no longer need to report their status to ACT Health.
  • COVID safety plans are no longer required for Canberra businesses and events. Planning tools will remain available and ACT Health recommends businesses maintain an up-to-date COVID-19 safety plan to help manage the risk for staff, visitors and customers.
  • Vaccine mandates will no longer apply for workers in aged care facilities or disability care settings. Employers will now need to consider whether they wish to implement their own vaccination requirements in their employment policy or work health and safety settings.

Changes are also being made to COVID-19 testing arrangements in the ACT. The Kambah COVID-19 drive through testing centre will permanently close at 4pm today (Friday 30 September) and the operating hours at the ACT’s remaining testing centres will be reduced from tomorrow (Saturday 1 October).

As the COVID-19 response focuses on protecting and supporting those most at risk from severe illness from COVID-19, PCR testing will be prioritised for these groups.

RATs are readily available for anyone else with symptoms of COVID-19, including from the Mitchell and Garran testing centres. Canberrans must continue to report positive rapid antigen tests (RATs) to ACT Health as soon as possible.

“I would encourage anyone needing a test to check the ACT COVID-19 website to confirm COVID-19 testing locations, opening hours and testing advice before they head to a testing centre,” Minister Stephen-Smith said.

If people have any COVID-19 symptoms, they should get tested for COVID-19 and stay at home.

The COVID-19 Management Declaration comes into effect under changes to the Public Health Act, that came into effect earlier this year.

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