Media release
15 January 2021

Victoria has recorded two new cases of coronavirus since yesterday. Both cases are in returning international travelers in hotel quarantine.

The new cases are in a man aged in his 40s and a woman aged in her 20s.

For the the ninth consecutive day, Victoria has recorded no new locally acquired cases of coronavirus.

The number of active cases in Victoria is now 28, made up of 12 locally acquired cases, which is a decrease of two since yesterday, and 16 cases in returned overseas travelers in hotel quarantine, an increase of one since yesterday.

Investigations have been undertaken on a suspected false positive COVID-19 test result detected yesterday in a man aged in his 30s.

Multiple follow up tests on this case have returned negative results. The Expert Review Panel has reviewed this case and determined this to be a false positive. The case is now classified as negative to COVID-19.

Victoria’s new ‘traffic light’ permit system is now in effect.

All areas in Australia are designated as red, orange or green zones based on the latest COVID-19 advice from Victoria’s Chief Health Officer. The latest information and advice, including a description of the three zones, can be found on the Victorian Travel Permit System page.

The Greater Sydney region (including the Blue Mountains and Wollongong) and the Local Government Areas of Greater Brisbane, including Brisbane City, Moreton Bay, Redlands, Logan and Ipswich, are currently red zones and will continue to be monitored daily and updated accordingly. 

Travel from a red zone is not permitted unless you have an exception, exemption or work or transit permit.

All travellers entering Victoria now require a permit. The conditions of the permit will be based on where the person is travelling from, or where they have been.

This system allows all residents and travelers wishing to enter Victoria from anywhere across Australia to apply for a permit via the Service Victoria online portal. It should take less than five minutes to complete a permit application which is processed automatically.

Since the portal went live on Monday night, 126,319 permits have been issued up to midday today. In the past 24 hours, 20, 275 applications have been processed – an average of 14 permits issued each minute. 

Applications can be made through the Service Victoria portal.

The department continues to work through applications for exemption applications for entry into Victoria – each application is considered to ensure that a person who is prohibited from traveling into Victoria from a red zone only travels when it is safe and appropriate to do so.

Under Victoria’s restrictions, exemptions for care and compassionate reasons must be prioritised. This means that since the start of the Victorian-NSW border restrictions, a total of 1886 exemptions have been granted and just four applications or 0.21 percent have been rejected. Approved exemption applications mostly relate to Victorians returning for compassionate reasons as well as inter-state residents travelling into Victoria for funerals or to be with a loved one at end of life.

On Thursday 14 January 2021, almost 1,000 applicants have been interviewed and their applications are currently being processed for consideration.

Yesterday the department’s call centre received 4976 calls with an average wait time of 16 seconds – the majority of calls were in relation to border travel requirements and exemption requests.

From this Monday 18 January, office workers, excluding the Victorian Public Service, can increase to up to 50 per cent of on-site worker capacity.  And the Victorian Public Service can initiate a return to on-site work starting at up to 25 per cent capacity.

A further increase in these capacity limits is anticipated to occur in late February but will be subject to ongoing public health advice.

Given the current low levels of COVID-19 community transmission in Victoria, the Victorian Chief Health Officer has recommended that mask wearing is no longer necessary in certain settings.

From 11.59pm on Sunday 17 January, masks will only be mandatory:

  • on public transport
  • when riding in a ride share or taxi
  • inside shopping centres, including the retail stores inside shopping centres, such as clothing stores
  • inside indoor markets
  • in large retail stores (over 2000 sqm), such as department stores, electronics stores, furniture stores, hardware stores or supermarkets
  • on domestic flights to and from Victoria
  • at airports
  • in hospitals

You must always carry a face mask with you when you leave home unless you have a lawful reason not to.  It is strongly recommended you wear one whenever you cannot keep 1.5 metres distance from others.

This move signals a return to the mask requirements that existed prior to the Black Rock restaurant outbreak.

These new return-to-work and mask wearing measures will only come into effect if the current COVID-19 disease situation remains stable and the public health advice does not change.

As announced on Wednesday, anyone currently in Victoria who has completed 14 days of mandatory hotel quarantine in Brisbane at the Grand Chancellor Hotel on or after 30 December is asked to isolate and contact the coronavirus hotline immediately.

There are 16 people currently in Victoria who were in that hotel.  The department has contacted all of them and provided them with public health advice and support around isolation and testing.

Two additional people from the Grand Chancellor Hotel, who arrived in Victoria but travelled to South Australia, are being managed by South Australian health authorities.

Yesterday 15,010 tests were processed, bringing the overall testing total in Victoria since the pandemic began to 4,226,158. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms include fever, sore throat, cough, shortness of breath and loss or change in sense of smell or taste. If you are experiencing any symptoms, wear a fitted face mask when you get tested.

Please get tested at your nearest available testing location.

The department is publishing expected wait times at testing sites as well as updated information about locations and hours of operation on the Where to get tested page.

Everyone should continue to monitor for symptoms and get tested immediately if they develop symptoms.

Contact tracing interviews and investigations are continuing into the Victorian outbreak situation. As a result, more exposure sites may be discovered and details about exposure sites may change.  A list of each exposure site, including dates and times, can be found at the Case locations and outbreaks page.

Information regarding COVID-19 is available at the Department of Health and Human Services website or by calling 1800 675 398.