Mask, working from home rules to ease

February 22, 2022 BY

Victorian Health Minister Martin Foley, seen here taking his mask off, announced the new rules this morning. Photo: DANIEL POCKETT/AAP IMAGE

Victoria is easing indoor mask-wearing and working from home rules and bringing back elective surgery under changes to COVID-19 pandemic health orders.

The changes, including the removal of requirements for Victorians to work or study from home, come into effect from 11.59pm on Friday, Health Minister Martin Foley said today (Tuesday, February 22).

“Victorians have done such a great job getting vaccinated so we’re able to take safe steps to get more people to return to the office,” he said.

But masks will be required on public transport, in taxis and rideshares, on planes and in airports and at hospitals and care facilities.

Hospitality, retail, court and corrective services workers will still have to don a mask.

Primary school students in year 3 or above will continue to wear masks for now, as will teachers, but secondary students will not.

As well, the government has decided remaining restrictions on elective surgery will lift on Monday, February 28.

“We’re balancing the need to support our health system with the benefits of easing restrictions in a careful and sensible way,” Mr Foley said.

Masks will only be required indoors in the following circumstances, unless an exemption applies:

  • People on public transport, in taxis and rideshare, on planes, and indoors at an airport
  • People working or visiting hospitals, and indoor areas at care facilities
  • Workers in hospitality, retail and the court system
  • Workers at justice and correctional facilities
  • Students in year 3 or above at primary school, and workers at early childhood centres and primary schools (masks can be removed in secondary school)
  • People working indoors at an event with more than 30,000 people attending
  • In special circumstances, such as if you have COVID-19 or are a close contact and you’re leaving home.

Masks are recommended for other workers serving or facing members of the public, such as if you are at reception, meeting guests or serving customers.

Mr Foley will also declare several temporary exceptions and deadline extensions for workers required to receive three doses of the COVID-19 vaccine:

  • The third dose deadline for workers in education facilities who were fully vaccinated on or before October 25 will be extended by a month, provided that workers have a booking within that time – meaning all education workers have until March 25 to be ‘up to date’
  • Fully vaccinated workers who aren’t yet eligible for a third dose will have a third dose deadline of three months and two weeks from when they had their second dose
  • Workers who are recent international arrivals will have a new third dose deadline of four weeks from the date of their arrival, provided they have evidence of a future vaccine booking
  • Workers whose temporary medical exemption (e.g., because they had COVID-19) has expired will have a new third dose deadline of two weeks following the expiry of the medical exemption.