Thursday, December 9, 2021

Pandemic-specific laws to be made to ensure covid lessons learnt

The Victorian Government will introduce news laws that provide a clear and streamlined framework for managing volatile and long pandemics such as COVID-19 – while putting the safety of all Victorians first.
Delivering on the commitment to crossbench Members of Parliament, a new pandemic-specific part of the Public Health and Wellbeing Act 2008 will be legislated to embed lessons learnt managing COVID-19, incorporate best practice public health administration from other jurisdictions like New Zealand, and introduce greater transparency and accountability around decision-making.
Under the updated pandemic management framework, the role of the Chief Health Officer (CHO) will remain central to all key decisions.
As is the case with current State of Emergency declarations, a report setting out the reasons for declaring a pandemic and advice of the Minister and CHO will be tabled in both Houses of Parliament.
A declaration can initially be made for only four-weeks but can be renewed for three-month periods until the pandemic no longer presents a serious risk to the community.
Under the new framework, the Minister can issue pandemic orders after the Premier declares a pandemic and after seeking advice from the CHO.
These orders will replace the current public health directions and can include orders to restrict or limit movement, detain or quarantine infectious people or groups of people, as well as regulate activities.
The Minister will also be able to issue a pandemic order to a specific classification of person or group depending on their location, participation at an event or activity, or a particular characteristic such as age, vaccination status, residence, occupation or living arrangements.
Premier Daniel Andrews said, “We have learned a lot over the past two years of a once in a generation pandemic, and we are applying these lessons to manage pandemics in the future – while maintaining our ability to rapidly respond to outbreaks.”
Minister for Health Martin Foley, “This framework takes the best components from Australia and overseas and adds them to our already robust response”.

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