Page 374 - Week 02 - Tuesday, 22 March 2022

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The ACT government also recommenced category 2 and 3 elective surgeries at Calvary Public Hospital from 21 February. The reduced pressure on our frontline COVID-19 response has allowed redeployed healthcare staff to return to the hospital. Since 21 February, Calvary Public Hospital has gradually returned to full capacity and is working to an average booking of 40 or more elective surgery procedures per day. In addition, Calvary Public Hospital is also working actively with their private hospital partners to deliver, at no extra cost to the territory, elective surgeries above that number. This will accelerate catch-up for the temporary pause in elective surgeries.

With the latest increase in case numbers, our health workforce is again being stretched as co-workers test positive. My thanks go to those teams who continue to step up to care for our community. Significant recruitment is occurring across the system to ensure we can safely staff all areas.

Canberra businesses were also able to largely return to business as usual from 6 pm on 18 February. Density limits on all restricted businesses have now been removed, as well as restrictions on eating and drinking standing up, and dancing in hospitality and other public venues.

In addition, event organisers now have one less thing to worry about, as events are no longer required to have ticketing or pre-registration. From 11.59 pm on 25 February, the government also removed the requirement for events with more than 2,000 attendees to seek an exemption. Organisers of events of more than 5,000 people will still need to submit a COVID safety plan to ACT Health for review. The ACT government has also changed its advice regarding working from home. Employees can now return to the workplace where it suits them and their employer.

Mandatory face mask requirements were also eased from 6 pm on 25 February. Canberrans are now only required to wear a face mask if they are on public transport, including buses, light rail, taxis, rideshare and demand response vehicles; an employee or visitor in a high-risk setting, including hospitals, residential aged-care facilities, correctional facilities or residential accommodation facilities; a worker who provides services to a person with a disability; a worker for in-home and community aged-care providers; a staff member, visitor or student in years 7 to 12 in all indoor spaces at a school or early childhood education and care setting; or inside the Canberra Airport terminal or on a domestic flight in or out of Canberra Airport. In these settings, exemptions are still in place for people who cannot wear a mask safely. It is also important to note that, while masks may no longer be mandatory, they are still strongly recommended in indoor settings where social distancing is difficult to maintain.

I will be tabling the Chief Health Officer’s 24th report on the status of the public health emergency due to COVID-19. The report covers the actions taken by the Chief Health Officer and ACT Health’s COVID-19 response in the 30 days to 7 March 2022. The Chief Health Officer has advised that it remains necessary to maintain the effective TTIQ and public health social measures that I have just outlined.

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