COVID-19 VIC PREVIOUS UPDATES

16 September

Important State Government announcement:  Construction workers state-wide will need to show evidence to their employer that they have had a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine by 11:59pm Thursday, 23 September in order to continue working.

Some limited medical exemptions and proof-of-booking exceptions will apply, in line with previous requirements for residential aged care workers.

In addition, construction workers will now not be able to cross the metropolitan-regional boundary for work.  Tea rooms will need to close and food or drink will not be able to be consumed indoors at work. Worker shift bubbles must be in practice and all sites will require a COVIDSafe Marshal on site.

15 September

From 11.59pm on Wednesday, 15 September, Ballarat will lock down for 7 days with the same restrictions as Metropolitan Melbourne except the curfew. From 11.59pm on Wednesday, 15 September, Shepparton will have their restrictions downgraded to match the rest of regional Victoria.

13 September

Further to yesterday’s update, the State Government has announced a massive compliance blitz on construction sites over the next four weeks. The enforcement operation will adopt a “zero tolerance” approach including fines and prohibition notices. In addition to these compliance measures, the government will allow walk-ups without a booking for construction workers – including Architects visiting permitted sites – at four major vaccination centres every day from today until 26 September. In addition, thousands of priority Pfizer appointments and unlimited AstraZeneca access has been provided for the sector including permitted Architects. Members seeking to take advantage of these priority appointments are advised to show their Authorised Worker Permits and state you are an architect working on permitted construction sites. Further information about booking vaccinations can be found here. In a media release today the Premier noted that “Anyone who works at a site where civil works, building or construction activities take place, including contractors and architects working onsite, will be eligible.”  The construction sector blitz was also discussed by Victorian Treasurer, Tim Pallas, in his media briefing this morning which can be viewed in this 6 minute ABC news article.

Members can find the Vaccination briefing information (PDF) in this document provided by the State Government including key statistics, vaccination hub information and maps.

 

12 September

This evening at very short notice (late this afternoon) Institute representatives including Chapter President,  Bill Krotiris,  were able to attend an online construction sector briefing by Treasurer Tim Pallas and Industry Minister, Martin Pakula whose portfolios include that of Minister for Industry Support and Recovery.

In summary: 

1. A large proportion of new Victorian Covid-19 cases are apparently occurring in construction sector workforce. 116 cases were linked to one construction site in Box Hill and more cases at other sites. For more information you can watch this ABC News piece on YouTube from yesterday (Saturday September 11th): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BiYQuhisnWw

2. As a consequence there will be 50 additional compliance officers out checking construction sites.
3. There is a very real risk that the entire construction sector could be shut down in Victoria (that would be regional Victoria and Metropolitan Melbourne) if the situation does not improve.
4. If you are visiting a construction site – please abide all requirements set for that site including masks, checking in etc.. Ensure you practice has its own CovidSafe Plan – mention was made that subcontractors visiting sites need to have their own plans as well.
5. The construction industry is being strongly urged to get vaccinated. The Minister has forewarned that vaccination could be made mandatory on construction sites by the Victorian Government.
6. There is now prioritised vaccine access over the coming week to Pfiser for people less than 60 and Astra Zeneca for 60+ who work in the construction sector. The Treasurer, when asked by the Institute, says that the priority access also includes Architects who visit construction sites. This prioritised access is taking place from 13th September to 19th September. When you ring the Covid booking line, please state that you are an Architect who works in construction and has to visit construction sites for inspections and certifications. If you experience any difficult, advise the booking staff that the Treasurer has personally advised your professional association of this. If you experience difficulties in doing so – please advise us via the Victorian Chapter email address vic@architecture.com.au and we will notify the health minister’s office.

8 September Update for Members in Regional Victoria

The Victorian Government has announced that lockdown restrictions will be lifted for regional Victoria from 11:59pm on Thursday, 9 September. While the Authorised Worker list will no longer apply in regional Victoria – we were advised at 8:00pm tonight by the Industry Coordination Centre of the Department of Jobs Precincts and Regions  that “There is no change to restrictions for the construction industry following today’s announcement of the end of lockdown in regional Victoria from 11:59pm on Thursday 9 September. The current restrictions for the construction sector will remain in place in metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria.

7 September Update for Members

As announced on 1 September, the Victorian Government extended the state-wide lockdown until approximately 23 September. Of particular interest to members, subject to epidemiological conditions, the number of authorised workers permitted on large-scale construction sites may increase to 50% on 23 September if 90% of workers have received the first dose of vaccine. We will update this page with further details as they become available. In the meantime, members and on-site workers can find further information and book vaccination appointments by visiting this website. (Information about group bookings can be found here.)

6 SEPTEMBER UPDATE FOR VICTORIAN BUSINESSES

The Victorian government has announced additional funding for the Small Business COVID Hardship Fund. This program supports businesses that have been ineligible for Victorian Government business support programs since May but have experienced a reduction in revenue of at least 70%. This includes businesses that are legally allowed to operate but are restricted in their ability to generate revenue. Grants of $20,000 are available. Applications close 10 September. Further details here.

1 SEPTEMBER UPDATE FOR VICTORIAN BUSINESSES

The Victorian Government has announced an extension of the state-wide lockdown due to the level of community transmission of COVID-19 and the number of unlinked cases. Almost all of the current restrictions will remain in place until 70% of Victorians have had at least one dose of vaccine. This is estimated to be around 23 September.

While these restrictions will remain state-wide for now, consideration will be given to easing restrictions in parts of regional Victoria next week.

When 70% of Victorians have had at least one vaccine dose, the government will look to ease restrictions further. Of particular interest to members, the government will consider increasing the number of construction workers on site to 50% when 90% of workers have received at least one vaccine dose. Please note this future easing does not currently apply.

Our Policy and Advocacy Manager has made representations to the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions seeking clarity about existing restrictions and advocating for common-sense changes where necessary. We will continue to update this page with the latest advice as soon as we have it.

23RD AUGUST UPDATE FOR VICTORIAN BUSINESSES.

The Victorian Government has announced a package of automatic cash grants for regional Victorian businesses to complement their previous package for businesses in Metropolitan Melbourne. Of particular interest to some members:

  • Business Costs Assistance Program provides additional support to eligible small to medium businesses in sectors affected by the current restrictions  ($2,800 per week; ongoing)
  • Small Business COVID Hardship Fund supports business that are ineligible for business support programs and have experienced a reduction in revenue of at least 70%. Businesses that are legally allowed to operate but are restricted in their ability to generate revenue will be among those businesses that could be eligible.  ($14,000; Closing date 10 September)
  • COVID-19 Disaster Payments: Eligible workers across the state who lose hours of work due to the lockdown will be able to access the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 Disaster Payment, as will individuals who are sole-trader business owners who lose work and that do not qualify for Victorian Government support programs.

Details concerning eligibility and applications are available on the Business Victoria website.

 

22ND AUGUST UPDATE FOR MEMBERS IN REGIONAL VICTORIA.

Dear Regional Victorian members, with yesterday’s announcement by the Premier of Regional Victoria’s re-entry into lockdown, building and construction restrictions have been brought into effect as of 1:00pm yesterday (Saturday August 21st). The Victorian Department of Jobs, Precincts and  Regions (DPJR) Industry Coordination Centre has emailed the following advice to the Institute and other stakeholders:

The Victorian Government has announced that regional Victoria will enter lockdown from 1pm today, Saturday 21 August.

All metropolitan Melbourne restrictions – excluding the curfew – will be implemented across regional Victoria until 11.59pm Thursday, 2 September.

This is due to the ongoing level of community transmission, the large number of mystery cases and a surge of new cases and exposures sites outside of metropolitan Melbourne.

For a detailed overview of the restrictions, see the Table of Restrictions.

For the Construction sector in regional Victoria

  • Workforce limits apply to the construction industry from 1pm today, however industry will be engaged about safely reducing staff numbers as they secure sites.
  • Face masks are mandatory indoors (not at home) and outdoors, including all workplaces, unless an exception applies.
  • Apply a density quotient of one person per four square metres at all sites. Staffing reductions apply, except for critical infrastructure and emergency repairs.
  • At large scale construction sites, staffing must reduce to 25 per cent of a project’s resourcing plan as of 1pm 21 August 2021 or five workers on site, whichever is higher.
  • At small scale construction, there is a limit of five workers on site.
  • At early stage residential land development sites, there is a limit of 10 workers per hectare at any one time.
  • In order to calculate 25 per cent of a project’s resourcing plan, you must take the daily average number of workers on the large-scale construction site across the project lifecycle, as derived from the large-scale construction site’s resourcing plan as of 16 August.
  • Employers must limit movement of workers between construction sites, except in relation to supervisors on small-scale construction sites, specialist contractors (up to three construction sites per week), specialists who provide safety services, or those required to meet statutory obligations or requirements (e.g., auditors, building inspectors or surveyors).
  • The provision for outdoor work at occupied premises returns to a single authorised worker, except where it is dangerous to work alone, in which case a supervisor is allowed.
  • To give industry time to adjust, workforce permits will be required to leave the house for authorised work from 11.59pm Monday 23 August.

More information on the Authorised provider and authorised worker permit is available on the coronavirus website.

More information specific to the construction industry is available on the construction sector page.

17TH AUGUST UPDATE

Members please read carefully- all  the information at Construction Sector Guidance

on the Victorian Government coronavirus.vic.gov.au website.

Essential highlights for Metropolitan Melbourne:

  • Architects are included in daily worker counts on construction sites.
  • Architects, surveyors, auditors, building inspectors and engineers  that provide architecture, engineering, surveying, building inspection or compliance services or statutory functions must work from home where possible.
  • When an Architect is working on a permitted construction project and are required to attend site for inspection and safety purposes, they can do so. They are counted as workers and the site worker quotient limits apply to them. An Architect will require a valid Authorised Worker Permit and limitations apply. Authorised Worker Permit Forms can be downloaded from: Authorised provider and authorised worker permit
  • As with specialist contractors who need to move between sites Architects, surveyors, auditors, building inspectors and engineers are permitted to visit no more than three different sites a week, except where those visits are required to meet a minimum statutory obligation or requirement.
  • Renovations indoors may not proceed at occupied premises but outdoor works which are carefully defined may proceed. 
  • Tradespeople and builders cannot visit homes for renovations but can provide repairs, maintenance, home installations and other building works if able to perform the work solo (unless additional workers are required for safety reasons) and only outdoors.
  • If the occupants have vacated the property and it is completely unoccupied, then renovations can proceed in line with restrictions on small scale construction.
  • If the occupants are still living at the property, then trades people and builders can only make emergency repairs indoors.
  • An apartment is regarded as unoccupied only when all apartments in that building are empty. If any apartments have residents, all apartments in the building are considered to be occupied.

  • An unoccupied structure, such as a granny flat or a shed, is considered unoccupied even if it is on a property with occupied houses, if you can enter it without entering the occupied part of the property.

  • Quotients of the greater of 25% of the average daily project plan or 5 workers apply to large construction sites.
  • Large construction sites are defined by a number of parameters including number of storeys, typology and floor area. Please read the details on the construction sector guidance webpage carefully.
  • Construction contracts can be signed and commenced if they are works relating to a permitted construction work premises:
    • Building and non-building construction (including residential)
    • Construction of critical and essential infrastructure and services to support these projects, and other construction in line with restrictions
    • Critical repairs to any premises, are allowed, where required for emergency or safety.
  • All workers on a site count towards the daily worker limit, with the exception workers undertaking emergency repairs and maintenance and workers engaged as suppliers and in deliveries (e.g. workers operating concrete trucks, concrete testers and the like who are only present onsite for a short period of time).
  • Movement of builders and contractors between residential sites must be managed in line with requirements for small-scale construction. Under those requirements, workers’ movements must be limited, supervisors and specialists who provide safety services may move between as many small-scale construction sites as necessary to fulfil their duties, and specialist contractors may move between up to three sites a week. These arrangements must be recorded in, and observe the requirements of, the COVIDSafe plan at each site.
 
DIFFERENT SETTINGS APPLY IN REGIONAL VICTORIA.
 

The construction sector guidance page at: https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/coronavirus-sector-guidance-construction#frequently-asked-questions-metropolitan-melbourne advises,

Frequently asked questions: regional Victoria

Is building, construction and renovation work allowed to continue in regional Victoria?

Yes. All indoor and outdoor construction and renovation work can continue at occupied and unoccupied premises in regional Victoria.

 Office-based work is capped at 25 per cent or a maximum of 10 people, whichever is greater. A density quotient of one person per four square metres applies in shared spaces and publicly accessible areas.

 Workers must wear a face mask indoors and outdoors at all times, unless they have a lawful reason not to wear one.

16TH AUGUST. UPDATE 9.45PM

Much awaited detailed information about the 25% construction site quotients still has not been published on the coronavirus.vic.gov.au website. An example of missing details is the definition of  “large  construction sites”.  It does appear that some outdoor works at occupied premises can continue. The Institute has sought clarification on whether architects, engineers and building surveyors are included in daily worksite counts and awaits clear direction. 

Some key points to note from the Construction FAQs at How we work: metropolitan Melbourne:

  • The definition of ‘outside’ for the purposes of construction, building and maintenance work means a  work space that is not fully enclosed. This means renovation work, such as a house extension, that occurs in a space without a roof or wall is considered to be outside. The ‘outdoor’ work space must be entirely separated from the occupied part of the house, so that workers and residents cannot access the same space (e.g., workers must not be able to enter the occupied areas of the house, even when residents are not present).
  • Workers must avoid contact with residents of the building and must wear face masks indoors and outdoors, unless a lawful reason not to wear one applies.
  • An apartment is regarded as unoccupied only when all apartments in that building are empty. If any apartments have residents, all apartments in the building are considered to be occupied.
  • An unoccupied structure, such as a granny flat or a shed, is considered unoccupied even if it is on a property with occupied houses, if you can enter it without entering the occupied part of the property.
  • Workers must avoid contact with residents of the building and must wear face masks indoors and outdoors, unless a lawful reason not to wear one applies.
  • If a building inspection is critical to the building or construction project, it is considered to be part of the construction and may occur.  
  • Workers who live in metropolitan Melbourne can work on construction, building and maintenance projects in regional Victoria if the work appears on the Authorised Provider and Authorised Worker List and the work cannot be done from home. This means a Melbourne-based office worker for a construction project in regional Victoria must only attend the regional office if their work cannot be done from home. When in regional Victoria, the restrictions travel with the Melbourne-based worker – for example, they must not dine in cafes or restaurants.

Authorised Worker Permit Forms can be downloaded from: Authorised provider and authorised worker permit

We will continue to  update members as more relevant information becomes available.

16TH AUGUST UPDATE 3:00PM. EXTENDED LOCKDOWN AND CONSTRUCTION SITE QUOTIENTS RE-INTRODUCED.

From tonight the Victorian lockdown restrictions will be strengthened and extended in metropolitan Melbourne, until 11.59pm on Thursday, 2 September. This is an additional 14 days on the previous directions.

The strengthened settings will see a curfew imposed from 9pm to 5am every night. This will operate as it did last year, with very limited reasons to leave the home during this time. 

The restrictions commence from 11.59pm tonight.

Permits will be required to leave the house for authorised work, consistent with the arrangements that were in place last year.

Additional restrictions will also apply to the construction industry, again operating as it did last year with staffing reductions in place except for critical infrastructure and emergency repairs.

At large scale construction sites, staffing must reduce to 25 per cent or five workers on site, whichever is higher.

Authorised workers will be required to carry permits when working, and when travelling for work, from 11:59pm on Tuesday August 17. The permits need to be certified by an employer. Permits will be available on the coronavirus website before these directions come into effect. For more information visit:

Premier’s announcement extended lockdown Victoria

and download the Table of Restrictions

13TH AUGUST UPDATE – OUTDOOR WORKS AT OCCUPIED PREMISES.

The Department of Health has approved more changes to the Authorised Provider and Authorised Worker list. From 11:59 last night, Thursday 12 August, the following services of businesses with an ABN that operate solely outdoors where physical distancing can be maintained at all times are  permitted with up to five people (with an additional supervisor): 

  • Outdoor maintenance, repairs, cleaning and other building work, including at occupied premises 
  • Home renovations and installations (outdoor only) 
  • Home solar panel installations (only for outdoor work or in roof cavities with external access).  See: Authorised providers and workers list

12TH AUGUST. UPDATE – SLIGHT REDUCTION IN OUTDOOR WORKS RESTRICTIONS.

Businesses with an ABN can resume outdoor services at an occupied premise when it can be safely carried out by a single worker and physical distancing can be maintained at all times. Services can include:

  • Outdoor maintenance, repairs, cleaning and other building work.
  • Outdoor home renovations and installations.
  • Home solar panel installations (only for outdoor work or in roof cavities with external access).

Strict health measures are required, and workers must wear face masks and have no contact with residents. For further information see: Construction Sector Guidance

10TH AUGUST. UPDATE – DIFFERENT RESTRICTIONS IN METROP0LITAN MELBOURNE AND REGIONAL VICTORIA. 

Stay at Home Directions (Victoria) (No 4) have been revoked and replaced by Stay Safe Directions (Regional Victoria) (No 7) and Stay at Home Directions (Metropolitan Melbourne) (No 2). The Restricted Activity Directions (Victoria) (No’s 22 and 23) have been replaced by Restricted Activity Directions (Metropolitan Melbourne) (No. 7) and  Restricted Activity Directions (Regional Victoria) (No. 7). 

As a result different restrictions have been applied in Metropolitan Melbourne and Regional Victoria as of 11:59pm  Monday August 9th. 

Construction and Building Activity is no longer restricted in Regional Victoria.

  1. Construction and Building may continue in Metropolitan Melbourne subject to the continued prohibition on non-essential works at occupied premises.
  2. Construction and renovations, including pool installation, painting, and landscaping, must not proceed at occupied premises in Metropolitan Melbourne.  
  3. Emergency repairs and maintenance are permitted, however workers must wear face masks and have no contact with residents.  For further information see the Construction FAQs at: How we work: metropolitan Melbourne

Under Clause 5, subclause 9 (c)  and Clause 8 of  the Stay at Home Directions (Metropolitan Melbourne) (No. 2) it is permissible to  travel from Metropolitan Melbourne to Regional Victoria for work. However, your Metropolitan Melbourne restrictions travel with you – meaning that you cannot engage in  indoor dining, for example, if visiting Regional Victoria for work. For further information download: Stay at Home Directions – Metropolitan Melbourne (No. 5)

To access all current directions visit: COVID-19 restrictions

6TH AUGUST. UPDATE – LOCKDOWN 6.0

Settings for this lockdown (6.0) for construction are similar to the commencement of the previous lockdown (5.0). Building and Construction Services are are on the Authorised Workers list as well as commercial operations that supply goods or service necessary to support any business activity that may be carried out in accordance with the directions. This can be read at at: Authorised Workers List

This afternoon the Institute attended an online briefing on industry restrictions and assistance by the Victorian Department of Job Precincts and Regions (DPJR). In reply to a question by the Institute as to whether “Architects, Draftpersons, Engineers, Building Surveyors and other consultants are included as “Building and Construction Services” the Institute was advised “Yes they are included in building and construction“.

It is also important to note that, construction and renovations, including pool installation, painting, and landscaping, must NOT proceed at occupied premises. See FAQ in:  Construction Sector Guidance

5TH AUGUST. NEW VICTORIAN LOCKDOWN 6.0

Due to the COVID-19 cases reported in the last 24 hours – suspected to be the highly infectious Delta variant – Victoria will enter a state-wide lockdown for seven days from 8:00pm tonight, Thursday 5 August. For more information read: 

Victorian Premier’s lockdown announcement 5th August

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PLEASE NOTE THAT PREVIOUS LOCKDOWN INFORMATION FOR  PREVIOUS LOCKDOWNS HAS BEEN REMOVED TO AVOID CONFUSION