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Update on COVID-19 Restrictions - VIC

June 22, 2020

The Victorian Government has introduced further changes to the COVID-19 travel and movement restrictions.  The most significant change is the reintroduction of restrictions on public and private gatherings.

The changes have no significant impact on display home operations or building sites. However, the extension of express restrictions on employers and their employees in offices and travel to the office will continue to impact some member’s business operations.

The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) has also urged people to avoid travel to and from the local council areas of Hume, Casey, Brimbank, Moreland, Cardinia and Darebin until community transmission is under control. The Victorian Government has not ruled out specific stay at home directions for these areas in the future which may then further impact personal and business travel.

Display Homes

Display homes continue to be permitted to open and should continue to meet the requirements for number of people, signage and cleaning. The HIA Guide for Display Homes operating in Victoria is available for members here.

Office Workers

Restrictions on employers and employees also continue to apply. The effect of these restrictions is that:

  • Employers cannot permit an employee to work at their premises (such as an office) when it is reasonably practicable for that employee to work at home or at another place.
  • Employees can only leave home to travel to work if it is not reasonably practicable for them to work from home or another place not the employers premises.

There are fines for breaching the Restricted Activities Directions and the Stay Safe Directions. The fine is over $1,600 for an individual and almost $10,000 for a company. The definition of “reasonably practicable” is the plain English meaning.

In practical terms employees who need to work on building sites or in display homes are not required to work from home.

Any employee who works in an office environment is likely to be expected to work from home. The availability of IT solutions such as video conferencing and remote network access will usually make it reasonably practicable for an employee to work from home.

For some office employees it may not be reasonably practicable for them to always work from home. If they need to access specialised equipment or equipment not available at home then working in the office may be reasonable.

Support for workers impacted by COVID-19

A new $1500 payment will be introduced for those who have a confirmed case of COVID-19 or are a close contact of someone with COVID-19 and who can’t rely on sick leave. This is to ensure that there is no financial reason for these people not to isolate and to go to work instead. More information on this payment should be available soon.

New Victorian Cabinet Ministers

The Government has announced several new Ministers and a reshuffle of Cabinet following last week’s Ministerial resignations. For our industry the following appointments will be significant.

  • Melissa Horne will be the Minister for Consumer Affairs with responsibility for the Domestic Building Contracts Act.
  • Shaun Leane has been appointed Minister for Suburban Development and Minister for Local Government.
  • Danny Pearson has been appointed Assistant Treasurer and Minister for Regulatory Reform.
  • Martin Pakula will take on Industry Support and Recovery – to work with businesses and their operations in a post COVID environment.
  • Jaala Pulford has been appointed Minister for Small Business.
HIA welcomes the appointments and looks forward to working with the Ministers in their new roles