Significantly, on 16 September 2021, the Victorian Government announced that construction workers across Victoria will need to show evidence to their employer that they have had a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by 11:59pm this Thursday 23 September 2021.
Moreover, public health officials have become increasingly concerned about COVID-19 transmission and exposure sites in constructions settings. Further challenges include, the construction workers are mobile and risk spreading the virus to new areas beyond the current outbreaks.
Furthermore, the State Government held crisis talks on 20 September 2021 off the back of the construction industry’s response to the mandatory vaccinations announcement. As a result, as of 11:59pm on Monday 20 September 2021, the construction announced a two-week mandatory shut down of the sector. However, this is subject to some exceptions to continue work on critical projects.
1. Mandatory Vaccinations
Firstly, construction workers state-wide will need to show evidence to their employer that they have had a first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine. The deadline for this is 11:59 PM Thursday, 23 September 2021.
The government has not released further details on enforcement. However, it is anticipated that construction sites and employers across Melbourne will be required to refuse site access to workers and employees that are unable to provide evidence of the above. Coming into effect once the sector reopens.
The government has allowed for priority bookings for construction workers. This is an effort to assist with the implications of the above. They are encouraged to call the COVID-19 phone booking line to arrange for the same.
2. Impermeable Regional / Metro Boundary
Secondly, from 11:59 PM Friday 17 September 2021, construction workers will not be allowed to cross the regional / metro border for construction works.
There is currently limited information on this restriction. In particular whether exemptions may exist for emergency repair works or for vaccinated workers. However, construction workers domiciled in either regional / metro Victoria will not be allowed to travel to the other for work.
Importantly, the Victorian Government have adapted a ‘zero tolerance’ policy for non-compliance. Accordingly, it is critical that construction workers and employers use this ‘down tool’ period usefully. They can prepare and ensure that they are covid compliant when the industry reopens.