27 April 2022

Quarantine requirements for household contacts in the ACT changed at 11.59pm last night (26 April), as ACT Health announced last week.

ACT Chief Health Officer Dr Kerryn Coleman said risk mitigation requirements, which include testing and mask wearing, are necessary to minimise the associated risks.

“A person who is a household contact is at highest risk of contracting COVID-19, compared with other exposures, due to the nature of contact between individuals in a household,” Dr Coleman said.

“However, I recognise that certain workforces are under significant pressures due to these quarantine requirements – while from a wellbeing perspective there is also a need to reduce the burden on families and individuals.

“So, while these risk mitigation requirements allow people to leave quarantine for necessary activities that cannot be postponed or delayed, ACT Health continues to recommend that household contacts seek to minimise their movement within the broader community wherever possible.

“If you think you need to leave your home during the quarantine period you should check the information on the ACT Health website to see what conditions will apply to you.”

Household contacts can now leave their homes if they have no COVID-19 symptoms, and if they comply with the risk mitigation measures for seven days from the last time someone in the household tested positive for COVID-19.

Examples of when a person may need to leave their home include, but are not limited to:

  • work or study that cannot be undertaken from home
  • accessing childcare or school
  • shopping for items like groceries and other essential supplies
  • attending an unavoidable gathering
  • outdoor exercise
  • essential animal welfare purposes.

Individuals will need to take personal responsibility in assessing the reason to leave home and whether this can be postponed or delayed.

A household contact must notify their employer or educational facility that they are a household contact to assist in deciding whether work or study can be undertaken from home.

If it is not practical to work or study from home, and where there is mutual agreement for the person to attend the workplace or facility, a household contact must undertake a COVID-19 test in the 24 hours prior to returning and then every 48 hours if ongoing attendance is required. COVID-19 testing will also be mandated for a person who needs to attend an unavoidable gathering, but not so for lower-risk activities such as outdoor exercise or if leaving home briefly for critical shopping purposes.

Importantly, if a household contact has, or develops, even the mildest COVID-19 symptoms they are not permitted to leave their home and must get tested and isolate until a negative result is received. Even if they have a negative test result they should stay at home until they are symptom-free.

Household contacts are also not permitted to enter a high-risk setting during the seven days unless an exemption has been granted by the relevant setting.

Businesses are encouraged to provide rapid antigen tests to staff they wish to return to the workplace. Individuals can also purchase rapid antigen tests from most pharmacies and grocery stores.

The ACT Government can provide rapid antigen tests for those household contacts who cannot obtain them from their workplace or where they would experience financial hardship, with collection available at the Garran and Mitchell COVID-19 testing centres.

To allow testing during the seven-day period, there will be a limit of three tests available per person who presents to the testing centre. Students and teachers are also able to access test kits through their school as per the arrangements in weeks 9 and 10 of Term 1.

Household contacts aged 12 and over will also be required to wear a face mask in any indoor setting that is not their own home. For students in a school setting this will only apply to those in years 7 to 12 and in line with advice from their school.

When outside the home, household contacts should also continue to practice COVID Smart behaviours such as physical distancing, good hand and respiratory hygiene, and avoiding crowded places and public transport, wherever possible.

There are no changes to the isolation requirements for individuals who are confirmed COVID-19 cases.

The full list of risk mitigation requirements in specific circumstances is available on the ACT Government’s COVID-19 website.