New South Wales and Victoria Ease Nearly All Covid-19 Curbs

Dance floors have reopened and density restrictions removed for more than half of the Australian population.

Looking up the Yarra River toward Melbourne’s CBD. (Photo: John Simmons/Unsplash)

Three days before a much-anticipated border reopening to vaccinated international travelers, Australia’s two most populous states have rolled back most of their remaining social distancing rules. Singing and dancing are allowed once more at nightclubs in Sydney and Melbourne, where case numbers continue their downward trajectory while the population coverage for a third vaccine dose steadily increases. New South Wales Health has reported that half of the state’s residents have already received their booster shot, and the figure is about 43 percent in Victoria.

New South Wales has scrapped capacity limits on indoor venues, with people required to check in by QR code only in the highest-risk spaces such as hospitals, aged care homes, nightclubs, or music festivals with more than 1,000 people. From February 25, indoor mask mandates will be removed except in the aforementioned settings and on public transport, inside airports and correctional facilities, and aboard planes. The general advice to work from home wherever possible has also ended.

Over in Victoria, density rules no longer apply to hospitality venues as of 6 p.m. local time, and QR check-ins have been abolished in retail settings, supermarkets, schools, and most workplaces. However, QR codes remain in use at restaurants, bars, hair salons and other places where proof of vaccination is required. Masks must still be kept on indoors (including in office settings), but the state government has explicitly said the requirement could end as soon as next Friday. Stadiums with more than 30,000 seats now have permission to hold full-capacity sports events; mask-wearing will be obligatory for attendees when moving around the venue, but they can take off their facial coverings when seated. Mandatory hotel quarantines for unvaccinated international arrivals entering via Melbourne or Sydney have just been reduced from two weeks to seven days.

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