The Victorian government has prolonged the state’s pandemic declaration for three months, from April 12 to July 12.
In a statement released on April 6, Premier Daniel Andrews said he was satisfied that the coronavirus disease still remained a severe risk to the state’s public health when making the decision.
“This extension enables us to keep modest and sensible settings in place to reduce transmission and hospitalisation,” he said.
“We don’t want rules on any longer than they need to be. We’ll continue to follow the advice to protect what we’ve built while protecting our community.”
The state government will present a statement of reasons for the decision and the health advice of the chief health officer and the minister of health to the Victorian parliament.
Prior to the extension, Health Minister Martin Foley signalled that the COVID-19 vaccine mandates for restaurants, cafes, pubs and nightclubs could be lifted when the latest wave of infections started to fall.
He said that Victoria’s hospitals were preparing to accept 500 or more patients per day as the Omicron BA.2 sub-variant was expected to peak within weeks.
Nevertheless, it is harder to forecast overall daily case numbers due to many factors, such as the number of people getting tested and those showing no symptoms.
As the number of cases still increases in April, Victoria will not adopt Queensland’s approach of lifting the vaccine mandate for hospitality venues from April 14.
However, the premier flagged that the state government could revisit the pandemic measures when infections dropped again.
“Let’s get through these next few weeks. Let’s get past this peak in sub-variant Omicron cases, and then we’ll have options,” he told reporters on April 6.
“One of those, hopefully, will be dealing with things like the vaccinated economy and all sorts of other rules.”
Last year, Andrews indicated that Victoria would keep its vaccinated economy in place at least until the Formula One Grand Prix, which occurred from April 7 to April 10, and possibly throughout 2022.
He said that the double-dose vaccine mandate for hospitality customers had helped reduce the spread of the coronavirus and thus should remain for now.
Opposition Leader Matthew Guy, who returned to the Victorian parliament on April 5 after going through self-quarantine because his son contracted COVID-19, said it was time to leave vaccine mandates behind.
“It’s about time we moved on with our lives sensibly,” he said.
The Victorian government is currently pushing for the state’s residents to take the third dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and considers that a public health priority.
The state reasons that the booster shot significantly reduces the chances of getting the virus, passing it on to others or going to the hospital.
However, experts have expressed concerns that the effectiveness of the booster shot plummets over time and repeatedly taking boosters would be harmful to the human body.
As of April 6, Victoria reported that 66.2 percent of its residents aged 18 and above had received three vaccine doses.