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Why mandatory Covid isolation could be scrapped

Australians could soon have their mandatory Covid-19 isolation periods slashed after state and territory leaders indicated they’re open to fresh advice from health experts.

National cabinet will meet on Wednesday, with NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet signalling he will ramp up a push to reduce the seven-day quarantine to five days.

“We will naturally discuss and debate those things tomorrow, and hopefully we’ll have a strong outcome,” Mr Perrottet told reporters during his flying visit to Melbourne.

Reducing the isolation period was raised at the last national cabinet, but was knocked back after advice from Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly over concerns around the BA.4/5 Omicron variant.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews, who appeared alongside his NSW counterpart, said he was open to cutting the isolation period but stressed the need for consistency across states.

Camera IconDaniel Andrews and Dominic Perrottet appeared alongside each other in Melbourne on Tuesday. NCA NewsWire / David Crosling Credit: News Corp Australia

“The time is right for us to get fresh advice; we’ll get that advice tomorrow and I’m inclined to follow that advice,” he said.

Both leaders said the federal government must continue to jointly finance the Covid support payments, as long as the isolation requirement continued.

Earlier, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese left the door open to a change in the Covid settings after indicating on Monday the national cabinet would shift towards considering “long term” restrictions.

“This has been on the agenda for some time. Premier Perrottet has been pretty consistent about it. And we‘ll have a discussion with all of the premiers,” he told 2SM.

Camera IconLeaders will discuss a change in the requirements on Wednesday. NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage Credit: News Corp Australia

But Health Services Union boss Gerard Hayes said a two-day reduction did not go far enough and urged the national cabinet consider axing restrictions altogether.

“Covid needs to be treated the same as other infectious diseases – with common sense; to be able to isolate when you’ve got symptoms, and you’re unwell, but be able to move into the community,” he said.

“This is trying to get ahead of that curve, so you can actually live with Covid going forward as opposed to continue responding and having a community that is not necessarily listening,” he said.

Opposition leader Peter Dutton said he expected the quarantine period to be cut if health advice recommended it.

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