21 December 2021
The Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) is encouraging state and territory governments to reintroduce and maintain certain COVID-19 restrictions across the country in light of the spread of the Omicron variant.
The RACP encourages governments to:
- Reintroduce (or maintain) mandatory mask wearing, particularly indoors and when unable to physically distance
- Reintroduce (or maintain) mandatory QR code check-ins across all public venues and events
- Restrict numbers of people at indoor public venues and events for a few weeks until the risks of the Omicron variant are better understood.
RACP President and respiratory physician Professor John Wilson says, "While we don't want to see families separated and communities impacted in the festive season, we are also wary of the increasing COVID-19 case numbers in states like NSW.
“If not checked a surge in cases will further burden our already exhausted health systems due to an overwhelming rise in hospitalisations.
“The relaxation of restrictions in some jurisdictions, especially those associated with mask-wearing, QR code check-ins and large gatherings, can have dire consequences.
“Our advice to governments remains to listen to their respective public health officers and maintain the restrictions necessary to control the spread of the Omicron variant."
The RACP also urges the broader Australian and Aotearoa New Zealand communities not to let their guard down at a crucial period like this.
“We have worked very hard to be able to celebrate Christmas festivities across the country, and we want Australians to enjoy time with their loved ones without running a risk to their health and wellbeing.
“Physicians continue to urge everyone to get vaccinated if they are eligible for a COVID-19 vaccination, if they haven't already.
“Moreover, if anyone is eligible for a booster shot after having waited for five months or more after their second shot, there is no better time than now to book.
“People should avoid large indoor events whenever they can because they are the perfect environment for spreading this life-threatening virus. The Omicron variant is highly transmissible and extra care is needed. If they can’t avoid large indoor events, people must make sure to follow social distancing measures and continue wearing masks.
“Last but not least, don't underestimate the importance of maintaining good public health practices - wash your hands regularly, sneeze/cough into your elbow and wear a mask wherever you can.
“We have to band together for the health and safety of our community and do our part to ensure a COVID-safe Christmas for everyone, especially health and frontline workers who are already stretched too thin in this pandemic.” Professor Wilson said.