Covid-19 Information for Victorian Members
September 20, 2021
IMPORTANT: The State Government has announced that construction will shut down in metropolitan Melbourne and other Local Government Areas currently in lockdown for two weeks from 11.59pm, Monday 20 September. All construction projects in metropolitan Melbourne, City of Ballarat, City of Greater Geelong, Surf Coast Shire and Mitchell Shire will be closed, with a strictly limited exemption for workers to attend the sites to respond to an emergency or perform urgent and essential work to protect health and safety. An amnesty will be put in place so that a limited number of workers can attend construction sites in order to shut them down safely. All sites will be required to demonstrate compliance with Chief Health Officer Directions prior to reopening – including the requirement for workers to show evidence to their employer of having had one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine before they return to site on 5 October. More info here.
September 20, 2021
Victoria has released its roadmap details aligned to the national targets.
We remain without many of the more specific details about a staged re-opening of construction. There are only broad indicators for construction laid out in Victoria’s Roadmap: Delivering the National Plan At present, there are no details of any proposed changes to occur in construction until 80% full vaccination of the 16+ population. This is not predicted to be reached until October 26th. At this point the only indicated change will be that construction workforce caps are increased to 50% where workers have all had their first dose vaccination with the vaccine mandate on construction sites in operation by then.
Today the Institute asked Victorian Employment Minister, Jaala Pulford, at the Covid-19 Industry briefing if Architects could be permitted to carry out CovidSafe pre-construction site visits/inspections (e.g for scoping and taking measurements) resolved down to different settings for Regional vs Metro and occupied vs unoccupied sites rather than the current unclear blanket restrictions. The Institute recommended that this could follow a similar arrangement of balanced permitted inspections to those in place for real estate inspections. The Institute flagged the important downstream impact in terms of the future pipeline of construction work. The Minister said that she is open to more tailored restrictions adding that there is no reason why architecture and design should be treated “wildly different from real estate” .
The Institute will liaise with Directors in the Department of Jobs Precincts and Regions and put forward a proposal as to how this might work.
September 19, 2021
The Chief Health Officer has declared the City of Greater Geelong, the Surf Coast and Mitchell Shire will enter a seven-day lockdown commencing at 11:59pm on Sunday 19 September, with restrictions the same as those in the City of Ballarat and metropolitan Melbourne, excluding the curfew.
September 16, 2021 6PM Update
Following the Premier’s announcement earlier today, the Institute has attended a State Government briefing this evening to clarify how the new settings apply to Architects.
- The vaccination mandate – which requires construction workers state-wide to show evidence of a first dose of COVID-19 vaccine by 11:59pm Thursday, 23 September – will apply to anyone visiting construction sites. This will include architects and other construction professionals visiting construction sites. It covers all construction sites including small-scale residential renovations, residential apartments, infrastructure and early-stage land works. Site sheds that are off-site but are set up to support that site work will be considered as part of the construction site for the purposes of the mandate. At this stage, the vaccine is not being mandated for workers whose work is performed solely in a studio/ office (e.g. in respect of regional architects who are currently able to be in their studios subject to the office quotients. More here)
- The vaccine mandate for being on construction sites will be a legal requirement set by the Chief Health Officer and will be given effect through the same legal mechanism that is used to mandate vaccination for workers in residential aged care.
- All construction workers will no longer be able to cross the regional-metropolitan boundary for work. This applies to all construction professionals including Architects, Engineers, Building Surveyors and Draftspersons. This restriction means that a metropolitan Melbourne Construction Professional cannot visit any regional construction site and vice versa.
It is expected the Chief Health Officer will publish these new directions tomorrow (17th September). We will continue to update this site will additional details as they become available.
- Metropolitan Melbourne, Ballarat, Greater Geelong, Surf Coast Shire & Mitchell Shire: Cannot leave home other than for one of the six permitted reasons (one of these is authorised work with a permit). Further details here.
- Regional Victoria: No restrictions on the the reasons to leave home. HOWEVER, “there is no change to restrictions for the construction industry”. The current restrictions for the construction sector remain in place state-wide.
- Authorised Worker Permits: Architects are included in the definition of “Building and Construction Services” in the Authorised Worker list. You can apply for an Authorised Worker Permit here.
- Construction Sector Guidance: The latest advice specific to Architects and others in the construction industry can be found on this website. All construction sites must:
- Have a COVID Marshal.
- Have worker shift bubbles, including staggering the start, finish and break times, to reduce mixing of workers in different bubbles.
- Prevent consumption of food and drink indoors except for water (and except for where there is a medical requirement to consume food or drink).
- Have additional restrictions to tea rooms. (FAQs)
- Vaccination Mandate: 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.
- Vaccination Access: The government will allow walk-ups without a booking for construction workers – including Architects visiting permitted sites – at four major vaccination centres every day 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.
- Occupied Premises: Non-essential works may not be carried out indoors at occupied premises.
- Pre-Construction: There is significant ambiguity concerning what on-site activity is permitted in the pre-construction phase. This is a concern many members have raised. Our Policy and Advocacy Manager is actively seeking clarification on this with the State Government and has made repeated representations to the relevant department
- Enforcement: 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.
- Commonwealth Covid-19 Disaster Payment: Eligible workers and sole traders who lose work or income due to the lockdown may be eligible for the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 Disaster Payment. (Ongoing)
- Business Costs Assistance Program: eligible small to medium businesses in sectors affected by the current restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria must have received grant under previous schemes. (Ongoing)
- Small Business Digital Adaptation Program: The Small Business Digital Adaptation Program provides $1200 rebates so small businesses can access a range of digital business tools. (Deadline 5 December)
- Wellbeing and Mental Health Support for Victorian Small Businesses: Providing mental health support to Victorians dealing with the challenges of running a small business to help them navigate through the impacts of coronavirus. (Ongoing)