News State Victoria News Vic dumps some mandatory vax rules, holds onto masks
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Vic dumps some mandatory vax rules, holds onto masks

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Victoria will not drop requirements for masks in shops, amid concerns about the Omicron variant. Photo: Getty
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Victorians will no longer need to be fully vaccinated for non-essential retail, weddings, funerals and to use real estate services under state government changes to public health orders.

The state had 1405 COVID cases and a further three deaths on Wednesday.

They include another four of the Omicron variant, as concerns grow about potential superspreader events at two Melbourne nightspots.

Health Minister Martin Foley will sign pandemic orders on Wednesday under the new Public Health and Wellbeing Act, which will come into effect at 11.59pm and continue until January 12.

“There are tweaks … informed on a wide measure by a relative uncertainty that the Omicron variant brings,” he said of the rule changes.

“Omicron has changed the landscape.”

Among the changes, children under 18 will no longer be required to show proof of their vaccination status at venues, including hospitality.

The mandatory vaccination requirement will be removed for all customers in retail, real estate and for those attending weddings, funerals or places of worship.

However, hair and beauty customers must still be fully vaccinated, as are patrons attending restaurants, bars and cafes.

Victoria is managing 10,781 active cases.

There are 365 patients in hospital, 84 of whom are actively infected with the virus in intensive care and 46 on ventilators.

It is Victoria’s highest number of hospitalisations since November 16, when 394 people were in hospital with the virus.

The seven-day hospitalisation average is also on the rise, growing to 335.

Testers processed 77,066 results on Tuesday, while 10,781 people were vaccinated in state-run hubs.

But there concerns about an confirmed Omicron that attended Sircuit Bar in Fitzroy between 9pm- midnight on Friday and then Collingwood’s Peel Hotel between 11.30pm-3am.

Chief health officer Brett Sutton said more than 850 people had checked into both venues for the relevant time periods.

All have been deemed close contacts and must get a PCR test immediately and isolate at home for seven days if fully vaccinated, or 14 if not.

Patrons who entered Sircuit from 6-9pm are also being contacted and asked to self-identify if they were there beyond 9pm, with authorities strongly advising them to get tested and isolate until they receive a negative result.

“I think we will see a significant increase in our Omicron cases. The story globally is it is doubling every two-three days,” he said.

He said 720,000 Victorians were eligible for booster shots, and urged them to book in.

“We’re seeing an increase in about 25 per cent in walk-in traffic for that booster dose. I expect there will be tens of thousands of people in coming weeks who will come forward for the booster dose – that demand is there,” Professor Sutton said.

“There is good evidence and it is getting stronger by the day, laboratory evidence and our epidemiological evidence, that getting or having had your booster shot will protect you even more from serious illness.”

-with AAP