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Further updates on the easing of COVID-19 restrictions in Melbourne

November 08, 2020

The Victorian Government has today announced further easing of the COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria.  View the Premier’s press release.

There are two important changes announced today that will impact the residential building industry.

From midnight tonight, 8th November:

  • The boundary between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria, the “ring of steel”, no longer exists.  This means that movement between these two areas is no longer restricted and the metropolitan-regional worker permit no longer needs to be used by workers crossing that boundary.
  • The 25 km travel limit from leaving home in metropolitan Melbourne has been lifted.

It is critical, however, to appreciate that there are still many COVID-19 restrictions that remain in place.  The most important of these for the residential building industry are:

  • Having a COVIDSafe Plan; and
  • Wearing face masks - there are no changes from current arrangements and a fitted face covering must be worn in public and at work at all times (with specified exceptions).

These requirements from the Workplace Directions will continue to be in place for the foreseeable future. 

More information about these COVID safety requirements and the building industry.

Here is a summary of the impact of today’s announcements on the residential building industry.

Work on Building Sites

No changes to requirements for working on site.

Workers travelling between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria will no longer need a worker permit. 

Review your COVIDSafe Plan to make sure it is up to date and does not have any references to out-of-date concepts such as worker permits, specialist contractors and only 5 workers on site limits, which are no longer in place.

HIA continues to recommend that residential builders follow the HIA Making Space on Site Guidelines.

Working from Offices

No changes to the current arrangements - if you can work from home you must work from home.

Display Homes and Colour/Product Selection Centres

It is now clear that clients are not subject to the 25 km travel restriction within metropolitan Melbourne and can also cross between regional Victoria and metropolitan Melbourne for the purpose of visiting display homes and colour and product selection centres.  Display homes and colour and product selection centres continue to be retail facilities with all existing social distancing, cleaning and record keeping requirements continuing.

Real Estate

There are some changes to real estate inspections. Inspections can now be conducted for up to 10 people from any number of households, excluding the owners/residents of the property and the real estate agent. These are different requirements to display homes - see above.

Meeting Clients

It is now clear that clients are not subject to the 25 km travel restriction within metropolitan Melbourne and can cross between regional Victoria and metropolitan Melbourne for the purpose of meeting with a builder – either at an office, building site or other location.  However, it continues to be best practice to avoid unnecessary face to face meetings and to always wear face masks and implement all COVID obligations and social distancing measures if conducting a meeting face to face.

Building Inspections

Clients are clearly no longer subject to the 25 km travel restriction within metropolitan Melbourne and can cross between regional Victoria and metropolitan Melbourne to inspect a building site.  Once again, it is recommended that unnecessary inspections be avoided and clients be reminded of their COVID obligations including face masks and social distancing and to give reasonable notice before attending an inspection. 

Enforcement

The Government has emphasised that enforcement agencies will be out in force to ensure all COVID requirements are being followed as we open up. It is vital that as an industry we remain vigilant and follow all the requirements - including site signage, social distancing, record keeping and other requirements as outlined by Government. The HIA Making Space on Site Guidelines assist with these requirements across numerous residential building and consumer settings.

It is an obligation for all industries to have COVIDSafe plans in place.

Next Steps

From 22 November – and in line with the public health advice – Victoria is on track to reach the Last Step in our roadmap towards reopening. The last step is not the end of restrictions however and some restrictions will be in place until next year.

Finally the Premier said today that in terms of the legal instruments that allow all of the restrictions to be in place - the State of Disaster will not be renewed. But because the virus is still very much with us, the State of Emergency will be extended until 6 December to allow the Chief Health Officer’s directions to remain in force.

We will keep you posted if further information becomes available.