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Update on COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria

July 07, 2020

The Premier has announced that the Stage 3 “Stay at Home” restrictions will be reinstated across metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire from 11:59pm on tonight.

For six weeks, and if you live in these areas, there will only be four reasons you are permitted to leave your home: shopping for food and essential items; care and caregiving; daily exercise and work and study – if you cannot do these from home.

Read the Premier’s full statement

What this means for Building Work?

You should be able to continue working at sites in the affected municipalities in Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire with all of the appropriate social distancing and related measures in place. It is possible that there will be more enforcement of COVID-19 restrictions and movement is expected to be subject to regular checks by the authorities.

We urge all members, regardless of where their building sites are located, to be vigilant in following all of the requirements for social distancing, health and hygiene at display homes and on building sites, including ensuring everyone entering building sites carries out a COVID-19 site induction.   Members should ensure clear signage and protective measures are available on each building site.

HIA’s Making Space on Site Guidelines are available to assist you in ensuring you and your teams are working to remain COVID safe on site and in the office. Download a free copy of HIA’s site signs and the COVID-19 QR code for site inductions.

Movement between sites in Melbourne and the Mitchell Shire

Members who have building sites in these areas may wish to provide a letter to workers who will be travelling to work on building sites. The letter simply needs to identify the building site and explain that the worker named in letter is working on that site. The letter will also remind the named worker of the need to comply with all COVID-19 restrictions and tell them not to leave home if they are unwell.

These letters should ideally be renewed every week. If the worker is a contractor, carrying a copy of their contract, provided it identifies the site, could also be useful.

These documents should help workers satisfy Victoria Police and other enforcement officers of their need to travel for work.

Display Homes

Advice obtained from the Premier’s office today is that display suites can remain open and should continue to meet the requirements for number of people, signage and cleaning. The guidance however also stresses that it must be necessary for the consumer to make the trip. Where possible other options such as online transactions and virtual meetings should be used. 

The HIA Guide for Display Homes operating in Victoria is available for members. We suggest that members consider adopting a 'by appointment' approach as was the practice in previous stage 3 restrictions.

It is likely that the combination of the Stay at Home restrictions on consumer activity and the operational restrictions on businesses will make it impractical for many display homes to operate.

Office Workers

Restrictions on employers and employees that apply include:

  • 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.

HIA Workplace Services

1300 650 620

Online COVID-19 resources availaible.