An update on the strict new COVID19 rules and all the confusion surrounding it


The latest announcement made by the Premiere definitely left so many Victorians in shock and confused. Although it seemed like something that was bound to happen – and has been in speculation for several days now, it still came, in a way unexpectedly – as in no one was actually prepared for it.

The Premiere announced a Stage 4 lockdown across Victoria and Melbourne after an outbreak, which was designed to deliberately limit the movement among workers to keep everyone safe from the virus. It was meant to keep people at home – which is the number one solution to keep the virus from spreading even further.

The Stage 4 lockdown, which began on Sunday, 2nd of August 2020 banned workers from attending more than one building site until the 13th of September. That is a six-week lockdown implementation. This suggests that plumbers, electricians, and other tradies are only allowed to work on one current job and will have to wait until the lifting of this ban until they can work on another.

The sudden change left so many confused about what to do next – that and the lack of clear guidelines. Industry groups, businesses, and workers are asking whether the news rules state that once they finish a job, will that be it for the next six weeks? Many aspects of the new restrictions are unclear.

MBAV once more addressed questions regarding the Stage 4 lockdown and how it will affect the industry. Discussions were held with the DHHS and other relevant departments – together with the Premiere’s Private Office and other ministerial offices. Members have been seeking some clarifications regarding the following:

  • Definition of small versus large scale projects, and of critical infrastructure;

  • Workers/tradies/subcontractors moving across multiple sites during the six weeks

  • How the 25% rule will be applied in commercial construction

  • Will renovations be allowed?

  • Will manufacturing for office and commercial building stay open?

As for questions such as “is the deadline Wednesday 11:59pm or Friday 11:59pm?” and do we need to start shutting down our sites as we cannot work under the current guidelines?

There are two deadlines as per the announcements. “The requirement for permits to travel to work comes into effect at 11:59pm Wednesday, while the Friday 11:59pm deadline refers to the time that reduced employees’ numbers and other working restrictions will come into effect.”

Fortunately, the Premiere made clarifications regarding some of these matters today 7th August 2020. All members are encouraged to read the guidelines stated so implementations can be done immediately.

All are subject to COVID19 Safe practices.

Movement among sites on small scale residential site

- Site supervisors are allowed to move along sites per and specialist trades three times per week, no more than one site per day.

- Must reduce the number of workers to five plus a supervisor at any one time.

Large commercial construction projects

- Allowed to have a maximum of 25% of the workforce on site.

- All personnel count towards the 25 percent except for staff specifically dedicated to oversight of COVIDSafe functions in the workplace.

Large-scale construction definition

- More than three storeys (excluding basement)

- Larger than 1,500m2 or

- Any office or retail fit-out, or

- Industrial, large format or retail use

Manufacturing of building and construction material will be allowed to continue as per the Premiere’s announcement.

“The MVBA also sought clarification whether 25 percent calculation will be subject to a minimum floor of five workers plus a supervisor.” As for the question of whether workers are no longer allowed to accept other jobs for the next six weeks after the one they are currently working on, the Government seems to be leaning towards that. Further updates will follow once information becomes available.

In the meantime, members are encouraged to read the updated construction sector guidance for your other questions.

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