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Tas, ACT follow big states in winding back COVID rules

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Density limits across all businesses will be removed as a raft of restrictions are eased in the ACT.
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COVID rules are easing further across Australia as more states follow NSW and Victoria, while Omicron case numbers continue to fall.

The ACT said on Friday it would relax many virus restrictions, with density limits being dumped for all businesses and dancing permitted again at nightclubs from 6pm Friday.

Bans on eating or drinking at hospitality venues while standing will also be ditched across Canberra, with the territory government indicating a return to workplace will be permitted for eligible employees.

Ticketing and pre-registration requirements for events have also been scrapped.

Tasmania made its own announcement on Friday, confirming it would abandon QR check-ins as it reported 623 more COVID infections – a drop of more than 50 from Thursday.

Premier Peter Gutwein said Tasmanians would no longer need to check-in at cafes, supermarkets, shopping centres, schools, hospitals and aged care homes. Codes will still apply at bars, pubs, clubs and the casino.

“We’re getting on top of this and I think it’s really positive at the moment,” he said.

They are similar rules to those in NSW and Victoria, who announced sweeping changes to their COVID restrictions from Friday. Victoria has 6935 further virus cases and 14 deaths on Friday, while there were 9243 COVID cases and 15 deaths in NSW.

Queensland is also considering easing some virus rules. It had another nine virus deaths and 5795 more cases on Friday.

Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said she would discuss possibly easing some of measures with chief health officer Dr John Gerrard in coming days.

“I will definitely let Queenslanders know before the end of the month about what restrictions will be eased,” she said on Friday.

She said while other states were already winding back restrictions, they were further progressed in their outbreaks than Queensland.

Meanwhile, Canberrans can look forward to a sweeping tranche of changes coming into effect throughout the next week.

Elective surgery will return from Monday at Calvary Hospital in Canberra’s north, with a gradual return to full capacity. It has been halted for more than a month at the facility due to the territory’s Omicron surge.

From Tuesday, the mandatory quarantine period of unvaccinated international travellers will be reduced to seven days. However, exemptions for the unvaccinated to enter the ACT will still be required.

Vaccinated travellers won’t have to complete an online declaration form, but testing requirements will still be in effect.

From 11.59pm on February 25, changes will be made to requirements on wearing masks in indoor settings.

The ACT government said further details would be finalised in coming days.

Exemption requirements will also be removed for all events from next week. But events with more than 5000 people will still have to submit COVID safety plans for review.

Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the changes were made after plateauing case numbers in Canberra.

“While we recognise the situation could change if a new variant of concern emerges or there is a surge in cases, this step is designed to minimise the disruption of COVID-19 on our local businesses,” he said.

“The winter months will present increased risks, and the ACT government will join national efforts to prepare for a period where out health system may come under significant strain.”

Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith said the eased restrictions were a sign of cautious optimism about the COVID situation.

“I’m confident Canberrans understand the simple actions and behaviours we can all take to protect ourselves and others,” she said.

“It’s important to be considerate of those for whom easing of restrictions may create some anxiety.”

-with AAP