Covid isolation rules Australia: AHPPC weighs whether to change close contact requirements

Australia’s health experts have dropped a huge hint about when Covid isolation rules could be scrapped as pressure grows for changes.

Isolation requirements for Covid close contacts will likely be scrapped across all states and territories once the peak of the current outbreak passes.

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee noted in a statement last week that it supports the “removal of routine quarantine requirements for all close contacts”, but said now was not the time to make those changes.

It said altering quarantine requirements right now would lead to more transmission in the community when cases are already high and potentially cause further disruptions to the health system.

The commonwealth committee pointed to the weeks following the anticipated peak of the current Omicron wave as the “appropriate time” for changes to be made.

It is a sentiment shared by leaders and officials across the country.

NSW Health Minister Brad Hazzard told the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday they have no immediate plans to change their quarantine rules.

“As Health Minister I wouldn’t be rushing to recommend to government that we change our position currently on close contacts,” Mr Hazzard said.

Victorian government minister Jaala Pulford said the same on Monday, when she responded to comments from Richmond AFL coach Damien Hardwick that mandatory seven-day quarantine for close contacts should end.

“To prematurely make these changes isn’t without risks to the health system. It’s not without risks to the health of the people in our community,” Ms Pulford said.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison reiterated again on Monday that state and territory leaders would decide when close contact isolation requirements will end.

“We don‘t make those decisions at the Commonwealth level,” he said.

“It is premiers who decide to shut cities down or open them up, not the Commonwealth government.”

Those comments came as a surprise to Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Tuesday.

“They (the AHPPC) made a judgment not at this time (to changing close contact isolation requirements). Hopefully that time comes and we‘re able to make those changes,” Mr Andrews said.

“He’s (Scott Morrison) asked a question (to the AHPPC) on behalf of all of us … he doesn‘t like the answer and that was apparently my fault.

“If there‘s a quarrel between the Prime Minister and the chief medical officer, well I respectfully suggest that he sort that out. I’m in the business of following advice.”

Originally published as Massive change to Covid rule looms when Omicron passes

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