Despite warnings from doctors, Australia has axed the five-day COVID isolation requirement. As of October 14, those who test positive for COVID-19 won’t have to isolate. This decision was made at a national cabinet meeting on September 30.
At the time, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese also confirmed pandemic payments for those who have to take time off work due to COVID and don’t have any more sick leave would also end unless you work in aged care or other specific settings.
“The pandemic leave disaster payments will end at that time as well, with the exception of people in high-risk settings, which need to be given particular support,’’ Albanese said.
“So, aged care, health care, the measures, disability care, the areas that have been previously identified.”
Australia’s chief medical officer Professor Paul Kelly clarified that the decision to lift the iso requirement didn’t in any way suggest that the pandemic is finished, and that if new variants emerged, the iso requirements would be re-visited.
“We will almost certainly see future peaks of the virus into the future, as we have seen earlier in this year,” he said.
“However, at the moment, we have very low rates of both cases, hospitalisations, intensive care admissions, aged-care outbreaks. This does not mean we have somehow magically changed the infectiousness of this virus. It is still infectious.”
Australia is slowly winding up its pandemic-era health policies though. In August, the COVID isolation period was cut from seven days to five days and passengers were no longer required to wear a face mask on domestic flights.
The latest move has been a long time coming. On September 14, Albanese hinted that all of Australia’s COVID isolation rules could be potentially scrapped at the end of the month.
“There are different arrangements in place in countries, but what we are seeing is gradually a move towards COVID being treated like other health issues,” he said.
“Clearly, we saw that with the reduction that we made last time from seven days to five.”
However, the government was still wary about implementing the changes. At the time, Albanese explained that Australia was expecting some more COVID waves.
Those waves never materialised and here we are, getting rid of some of the final remnants of what has been an incredibly stressful time for us all.