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Victoria scraps COVID-19 density limits

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Density quotas have been dumped in Victoria and most QR check-ins will also go in, under fresh changes to COVID-19 restrictions.

The restrictions will ease from 6pm Friday, as the state’s Omicron wave keeps easing.

“Density limits in hospitality and entertainment venues will be gone,” Premier Daniel Andrews said on Thursday.

“QR check-in requirements will be removed for retail venues, schools, included early childhood educations, and in many other workplaces.”

However, patrons at restaurants and pubs will still be required to check via QR codes, to ensure they are are double-dose vaccinated.

Additionally, surveillance testing in some key industries will no longer be required and hospital bubbles will be removed.

School students and staff will still be required to undertake fortnightly rapid antigen tests, Education Minister James Merlino said.

International arrivals will no longer have to obtain an international arrival permit and unvaccinated international travellers will have their quarantine period halved from 14 to seven days.

The changes came as the state confirmed nine deaths and 8501 COVID cases on Thursday. They were made up of 5661 from rapid tests and 2840 from PCR tests.

Victoria’s active cases continue to tumble, dropping from 50,967 to 50,042 on Thursday.

There are 401 people with the virus in Victorian hospitals, up four from Wednesday. Of these, 78 are in intensive care and 16 require ventilation.

The declining numbers came as Mr Andrews also flagged more changes likely next week – including a review of the requirement to work from home where possible, and whether masks will still be required in offices.

“[Health Minister Martin Foley] and I look forward to being back here before next Friday confirming those arrangements as well,” he said.

“We have to wait and see numbers continue to fall in terms of the number of people in hospital, or at least if we want the trend to be maintained, but it is our aim to have those rules changed.”

Mr Foley agreed that the falling number of hospitalisations offered more room to amend virus measures.

“If we continue this direction of change it would be appropriate next Friday to revisit the issue of masks coming off in office settings,” he said.

The Victorian government will meet industry leaders on Friday to discuss how public and private sectors will approach a return to the office, as part of a regular information sharing forum.

“We have regularly engaged with business and industry throughout the pandemic. This has included forums, roundtables and one-on-one discussions,” a government spokeswoman said.

Meanwhile, the state’s COVID-19 oversight committee is sitting for the second time since its creation on Thursday. It was part of Victoria’s controversial pandemic laws, which passed parliament last year.

– with AAP

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