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ASGA helps decipher roadmap for reopening for businesses in Victoria

ASGA helps decipher roadmap for reopening for businesses in Victoria

ASGA Victorian chair Mick Harrold has reached out to members to help decipher the new COVID restrictions in Victoria.

“As you will be aware, businesses in Victoria have been dealt another blow yesterday with the extension of Stage 4 restrictions for an additional two weeks. However, an examination of the rules shows that the harshest restrictions will remain in place for a further four weeks after that. Victorian businesses had been hoping that we could reopen in one week. However, we are now presented with six additional weeks of harsh restrictions.  For some it may be the final straw and they may never return,” says Mick.

To help decipher what is possible for businesses now and in the future, Mick has outlined the steps in the Victorian government’s roadmap to reopening.

The latest roadmap, which lays out the future restrictions, can be found at:

https://www.vic.gov.au/coronavirus-covid-19-restrictions-roadmaps 

Note: Regional businesses can skip step 1 and proceed to step 3 as they are generally able to operate under a COVID Safe Plan. 

First Step analysis 

They are now calling these stage 4 restrictions the First Step, which will run up until 27 September. All businesses are required to close unless they are a permitted business.

To determine if you are a permitted business, go to:

https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/business-industry-stage-4-restrictions-covid-19#permitted-workplaces-by-industry 

If you are a permitted business, you will most likely fall into one of the categories below.  The following text is taken from the Business Vic web page and is the requirements upon which all permitted business must follow.  

In permitted workplaces:  

  • If you can work from home, you must work from home. 
  • If your employees can work from home, you must support them to work from home. 
  • You need a permit to leave home for work and the permit requires your employer to state you cannot work remotely. 
  • Any onsite functions must operate under the minimum obligations to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) including a COVID Safe Plan in place. 
  • For operational guidance and frequently asked questions for businesses and industries visit https://www.business.vic.gov.au

Manufacturing works 

This covers work done inside your own factory and includes:

  • Manufacturing of fabricated metal product (Covers metal fabricated signs etc.) 
  • Manufacturing of building supplies to support construction (If you are building signs for the construction industry) 
  • Printing and support services (All print operations) 
  • Manufacturing of goods to support critical infrastructure public works (If you are building signs for the government project works like metro tunnel) 

Construction works 

This covers on site works, i.e. Installation. You are allowed to perform installation if you are working for a builder and they are allowed to operate under their COVID Safe Plan. The builder will have been required to develop one of these plans to cover the site. In that plan it will detail how many people are allowed on site. The builder will need to manage this and is responsible for knowing if your works are permitted. You will be included in these numbers even if you aren't working directly for the builder as it is site dependent. 

The astute among you may ask what the threshold for a construction site is and whether we can create our own construction sites. Our understanding is that if your works require a Building Permit, then you can deem your works to be a Small Construction Site.  If your works don't require a Building Permit, then the rules are less clear and you should keep your own counsel. 

Works for other permitted businesses. 

Many other businesses are allowed to stay open and we are allowed to support them, ie, fast food and supermarkets. To determine if your client is eligible, you will need to consult https://www.business.vic.gov.au

It also gets a little grey on what you are allowed to do on these sites. For example, COVID stickers for a Coles is 100% fine, but installing posters to advertise cheap VB slabs is very grey. You will need to keep your own counsel here as if you ask three people, you will get three different answers to this. 

Permitted works for businesses that are closed. 

You are allowed to do works for businesses that are closed, but only if the works are critical in nature, i.e. you are installing COVID signage in preparation for when they reopen. 

Second Step Analysis 

This stage will only come into effect after 28 September, but it also carries additional conditions that the virus also needs to be under 50 cases on a 14-day average. Unfortunately it isn't as simple as just waiting for the day. 

Once we move to stage 2, most sign businesses will move from the "Heavily Restricted" class into the lower "Restricted" class. Unfortunately this stage will feel a lot like stage 1 for many businesses as much of retail remains closed. 

Manufacturing business 

Most manufacturing businesses can reopen but must remain below 90% of the normal daily level. 

Construction works 

Early State Construction - Moves for 10 to 20 workers per hectare. 

Small Scale Construction - Still only five staff on site. Now allowed to work on more sites. 

Large Scale Construction - Allowed 85% of their workforce or 15 workers (whichever is greater) 

One major point of consideration is “no carpooling" to work sites, meaning installers must travel in separate cars to work sites. This rule exists now as well, but I still notice many tradies either not aware of this rule or not caring about it. 

While step 2 looks much like step 1, a lot more businesses will be allowed to open, which should hopefully allow an uptick in workloads. 

Step 3 Analysis 

This will come into effect after 26 October and will also need us to have fewer than five cases on a 14-day average. 

This is the stage that we had all hoped that we might be entering next week. It will allow most businesses to reopen under a COVID Safe Plan. This can be downloaded below..  

https://www.business.vic.gov.au/coronavirus-covid-19/covid-safe-business/creating-a-covid-safe-workplace 

There are still many restrictions on business, but they are less harsh and mostly administer advice on the amount of people in an area and so on. They cover things like continued use of face coverings.

The general rules are as follows:

  • staff should work from home wherever possible (to be relaxed over time) 
  • apply density quotient for some settings (could be reduced over time)  
  • ensure staff follow current public health directions when carpooling 

Further websites to investigate include:

https://www.business.vic.gov.au/support-for-your-business/grants-and-assistance/business-support-package/business-support-fund 

https://www.business.vic.gov.au/support-for-your-business/grants-and-assistance/business-support-package 

https://www.business.gov.au/Grants-and-Programs/Entrepreneurs-Programme 

https://upskill.business.vic.gov.au/?_ga=2.23375802.1024087372.1599447940-1332964672.1592976980

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