21 December 2021

The ACT will reintroduce the requirement to wear a mask indoors and tighten visitor restrictions for residential aged care facilities to help protect the community from the Omicron variant of COVID‑19.

From 11.59pm tonight, mask wearing will once again be mandatory in indoor settings in the ACT. Wearing a mask is a simple and practical way to minimise transmission of COVID-19.

Additionally, we will be re-introducing some restrictions for residential aged care facilities. From 11.59pm tonight, residents will be restricted to five visitors per day with a maximum of five visitors at any one time. There will be no daily limit on the number of visitors for end-of-life visits. Masks will be mandatory for staff and visitors.

Acting Chief Minister Yvette Berry said with the Omicron variant taking hold just over the border in NSW, wearing a mask indoors is a simple way for all Canberrans to reduce the risk of spreading the virus in the ACT.

“In the past week we have seen a significant increase in case numbers in the ACT, and around half of our active cases have been confirmed as the Omicron variant,” Minister Berry said.

“Wearing a mask indoors is a small price to pay to keep your family and friends safe. In addition to wearing a mask indoors, we all have a responsibility to continue our COVID-safe behaviours, practise physical distancing and good hygiene.

“And of course, if you're eligible for a vaccine or booster, please make a booking.”

Masks must be worn in all indoor settings other than a place of residence, from 11.59pm tonight. These include:

  • Indoor retail settings
  • Public transport
  • Hospitality venues (except when seated, or eating or drinking)
  • Indoor workplaces
  • Visitors and staff in residential aged care facilities

Mandatory mask wearing continues in settings where they were already mandated, such as in airports and on planes.

Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith said the ACT Government will continue to take a measured approach as evidence emerges about the Omicron variant.

“While we have world-leading vaccination rates here in the ACT, it is important that we continue to strive for the right balance in our public health and social measures to keep our community safe,” Minister Stephen-Smith said.

“Reinstating mandatory mask wearing indoors is a sensible step to mitigate the risks posed by Omicron. We will continue to monitor the situation over the holiday period, listen to the health advice and respond further if needed.”

At this stage, these requirements will be in place over the Christmas and New Year period and reviewed in January. However, should there be a significant change in the COVID-19 situation in the ACT, the public health response may be reviewed sooner.