Following the online Town Hall on Wednesday 12 August, where Victorian members gathered to discuss the impacts stage four lockdown currently in place in metropolitan Melbourne, we have collated your questions and put them to the Victorian Government.
We hope you find the below FAQ summary helpful. Please note, further information is released daily by advisers from VIC government departments, clarifying how COVID-19 Restrictions apply to architectural projects across Victoria.
Members should access the following information sources for the most up to date changes to Stage 3 and 4 Restrictions in Victoria, to check how restrictions affect individual business circumstances:
Updates for members under COVID-19 Stage 4 Restrictions
Architects qualify as Permitted Workers as Professional, scientific and technical services stage 4 restrictions when working within the Permitted Industry of Construction.
If architects are working on a permitted construction project and are required to attend site for inspection and safety purposes, they are permitted to do so under Stage 4 Restrictions, though limitations apply.
Employers need to seek workers views on whether they are happy to attend sites. If not, the employer needs to make other arrangements.
Employers have submitted their COVIDSafe Plan by 7th August 2020. Sole traders have a COVIDSafe Plan in place (recommended).
All employees, employers and sole traders need to work from home for all activities, except permitted activities. Stay at home, complete tasks remotely if at all possible.
Worker Permits are required to leave home for every employee, employer, or sole trader. Sole practitioners are required to sign a worker permit as the employer and employee.
When you leave home, you must wear a face covering and practice social distancing at all times.
On request, architects must provide copies of:
- A copy of the Employer’s COVIDSafe Plan
- A signed Worker Permit
- Details of permitted work, and the reason it cannot be done remotely, e.g., the location and nature of the activities undertaken at a site
Architects can travel beyond 5km for work that cannot be done remotely.
If architects live in metropolitan Melbourne, you can travel into regional Victoria for permitted work, providing you adhere to documentation requirements.
Travel to sites must comply with requirements for social distancing, face coverings, documentations.
You cannot share private transport with another permitted worker when travelling to sites if the passenger worker has no car or driving licence. Carpooling is not permitted.
Construction sites are unoccupied/vacant sites that are part of a project which will involve construction works. Site includes land/buildings where construction work has yet to commence but which will support construction activity, as well as projects currently under construction.
There are, however, some limitations to effectively reduce the spread of COVID-19 through permitted worker movement, including:
- Architects can visit a maximum of 1 site per day and up to 3 visits to small-scale construction sites per week
- Site visits must comply with the maximum of 5 permitted workers on site. Architects must be counted as a permitted worker. Architects are not Specialist Contractors, or suppliers/delivery, which are allowed on site in addition to max. 5 permitted workers.
- More than one architect/assistant can visit the site at the same time if the activity requires more than 1 person and cannot be done remotely. The number of people on site cannot exceed 5 permitted workers
- Clients are not classed as a Permitted Worker, and therefore cannot be in attendance.
Architects can visit sites at pre-construction stages, to complete work that cannot be done remotely. Work can include initial site visits and surveys of existing buildings. The projects can be new build or renovations. Visits to pre-construction sites are permitted, but there are limitations:
- The project must have started prior to the start of Stage 4 metropolitan Melbourne lockdown on 5/8/2020.
- All sites must be vacant and uninhabited, including dwellings.
- Architects cannot attend a site/client’s house to take site measurements if the client is still residing at the property.
Construction sites are where groundworks have started. Site visits are permitted when:
- activities cannot be done remotely, and no residents are living in the buildings included in the construction works or site since the start of Stage 4 restrictions.
- Where residential sites are inhabited, no visits are permitted unless the activity relates to ‘critical work for emergency or safety reasons’. Critical work does not include the installation of kitchens or bathrooms.
Visits are only permitted to post-construction sites to undertake critical work for emergency or safety reasons.
All other activities/obligations must be either done remotely from home or must wait until restrictions are lifted, including defect liability inspection work.
Other reasons for travel
Architects are permitted to visit their ‘normal’ office to pick up essential equipment. Architects must follow their office COVID SafePlan. Travel distance can be greater than 5km.
Architects cannot meet with clients under any circumstances as clients are not considered an essential worker. Client meetings must be done remotely, from home.
Architects cannot visit a supplier’s showroom to look/view products under stage 4 restrictions. Viewing of products/samples must be done remotely.