A cautious approach by the ACT government to managing the issues of COVID household contacts may be one of the last significant transition steps back to the "new normal" of post-pandemic life.
But in the short term it will leave the community, including school teachers and parents of school-age children, with many questions to ponder.
Household contacts in the ACT will be required to wait four days longer than contacts in NSW and Victoria to be released from compulsory isolation with Tuesday the kick-off for the territory's revised COVID regime.
From then, household contacts who have no symptoms and follow guidelines to minimise movement in the community will not be required to isolate for seven days.
Household contacts will still need to declare themselves and return a negative COVID-19 test before attending their place of work or study, and then test every 48 hours thereafter.
Quarantine requirements for returned unvaccinated overseas travellers will be eased from midnight on Friday, April 29.
The relaxed measures will elicit a huge sigh of relief across the education, hospitality, retail and the service sectors, where the requirements for close contacts to quarantine even when they are virus free has been particularly tough and transferred a significant additional workload onto those who have had to front up each day.
However, with schools due to resume on Tuesday, parents with school-age children trying to plan for the start of next term are still left in the dark about how the new rules will apply to them. It may mean another faltering, uncertain resumption, wondering if or when their children will be sent home ill and in turn, their own working lives disrupted.
It was clear from previous changes to rules that the ACT would need to swiftly follow the announcement by NSW Health that household contacts of positive COVID cases will no longer need to isolate from 6pm on Friday. Whereas the NSW and Victorian state announcements had a certain air of celebration to them, the ACT's response was presented with a tone of caution. This is appropriate, given the fact case numbers are still quite high and many in the community still very guarded.
Given how much the COVID-19 has racked the community, physically and economically, over such a lengthy period, and in deference to those who have lost loved ones or those who still remain ill, it would have been insensitive and inappropriate to treat this any other way.
Providing some solace is the recent revelation, based on expert estimations, that around half the Canberra population - around 200,000 people - may have already been infected with COVID-19, with official case numbers probably between two and five times smaller than the number of actual infections.
Under-reporting, added to asymptomatic case numbers, has continually muddied the pandemic's true impact.
A commitment by the government to ensure that rapid antigen tests (RATs) are in plentiful supply to those who need them, particularly for those working in the hardest-hit sectors, is vital. A readily available PCR testing regime must remain in place, too, as a backstop for some time to come.
There's no playbook to follow in the months ahead.
Old-fashioned values of kindness and consideration for others should be our guiding principles.
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