Australia's Victoria state eases Covid-19 restrictions as hospitalisations decline

Density limits will be removed for Victoria's hospitality venues from 6pm on Feb 18. PHOTO: REUTERS

SYDNEY (XINHUA) - Australia's Victoria state announced on Thursday (Feb 17) that it will ease a number of Covid-19 restrictions as the hospitalisation numbers are decreasing.

Victoria reported 8,501 new cases of Covid-19 and nine deaths on Thursday.

The number of hospitalisations gradually dropped from Monday's 465 to 401.

Victorian authorities said with hospitalisation numbers and community transmission decreasing and more than half of Victorians aged over 16 vaccinated with three doses, a number of common-sense restrictions and recommendations in place during the state's Omicron surge can be safely eased.

From 6pm (3pm, Singapore time) on Friday, density limits will be removed for the state's hospitality venues, and indoor dance floors will be allowed to reopen.

Mandatory surveillance Covid-19 testing for key industries, such as meat processing, will become recommended only.

The 14-day hotel quarantine period for international visitors and aircrew who are not fully vaccinated will also be reduced to seven days.

QR code check-ins will only stay in place at hospitality and entertainment venues, while retail businesses, schools and workplaces will no longer need to be checked in.

Some mitigation strategies in office-based settings, such as mask indoors will still be mandatory, but the health department is considering relaxing such limitations in the following weeks, due to the state's relatively high triple-dose vaccination coverage.

"We always said these measures wouldn't be in place for a minute longer than they are needed, and with hospitalisation numbers decreasing and less pressure on our health system, now is a sensible time to make changes," said Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews.

Victorian Minister for Health Martin Foley said these are safe and sensible measures that balance the need to support the health system with the benefits of easing restrictions across a range of settings.

The health authorities will keep reviewing the system over time in line with the epidemiological situation.

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