Update on COVID-19 announcements: Victoria

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COVID-19 Stage 4 Business Restrictions – Who Can and Can’t Open

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COVID-19 Stage 4 Business Restrictions
– Who Can and Can’t Open


There remains a lack of clarity for many members as to whether they can open or how restricted they are in opening, following the new COVID -19 business restrictions announced for Victoria yesterday.

Ai Group has discussed our concerns in numerous meetings with Government today. Unfortunately, the uncertainty has remained, even though businesses are expected to make vital decisions for themselves by tomorrow night. From many of the questions we are receiving from members, it is evident that manufacturing, and its complex supply chains, create few black and white answers.

We are endeavouring to provide as much timely and accurate information as possible, but so many of your questions are yet to be answered by the Victorian Government.

The following questions and answers relate to businesses impacted by Stage 4 restrictions within metropolitan Melbourne.

When do businesses have to close under Stage 4 restrictions? How long will they be closed?

Businesses that are required to close under the Stage 4 restrictions must do so by 11:59pm on Wednesday 5 August 2020. The business is required to be closed for six weeks.

I cannot see my industry activities on the list, am I able to continue to operate my business?

Under the Victorian Government’s Stage 4 Industries Listing, the default position is that a business is closed to on-site work unless the workplace is part of a permitted industry for on-site work.

If my industry sector is listed as “closed for onsite work” am I able to continue to operate if I supply into a permitted industry sector?

You may be able to continue to operate if you supply goods and services as an “ancillary business” to permitted industries. We have asked the government for clarification on this issue and are yet to receive a response.

How can I get classified as an “essential” business?

There is no such classification, you are either 1) closed to on-site work, 2) open for on-site work, or 3) restricted operations or industry specific obligations.

How do I get confirmation from the Victorian Government to allow my business to remain open?

There will be no confirmation process from the Victorian Government, and a business will need to undertake a self-assessment against the final directive of the Victorian Chief Health Officer, when it is released in the next day or so.

If I self-assess and continue to operate some or all of my business activities, what penalties will apply if it is deemed that I should not continue those activities?

We are not yet aware of what penalties will apply in this situation. There will be further clarification from the Victorian Government.

My understanding of the term “on-site” refers to where I do work away from my normal facility at a customer or client’s location. Is this correct?

The restrictions are focused on reducing activity in the community, and under Stage 4 restrictions “on-site” refers to your workplace where the work is normally undertaken.

I am listed as a business that is required to be “closed for on-site work” but I supply products to businesses outside the metropolitan Melbourne area and interstate. Am I allowed to continue as an “ancillary business” if I supply to these areas?

We are seeking further clarification whether a business can continue to operate if it supplies a business outside metropolitan Melbourne into regional Victoria or interstate.

If I am permitted to be open, can I have office staff at the workplace?

The requirement is that if the work can be done from home, it must be done from home, except where this is not practicable.

When is an employee required to have a “Worker Permit”, and how do I get it?

Employees working in permitted industries who cannot work from home will be required to carry a new ‘Worker Permit’ when travelling to and from work. From 11:59pm Wednesday 5 August, employers will be required to issue signed permits to their employees to allow them to attend a workplace. The Victoria Government is yet to provide the format for a Work Permit and we expect it to be available online when released later tonight.

We are a steel manufacturing business that produces windows and doors for installation on major government projects. Are we classified as “open for on-site work”?

Steel manufacturing is classified as Fabrication Metal Product Manufacturing and therefore listed as “closed for on-site work”. However, we are seeking clarification that if part of the work is to supply as an “ancillary business” into a permitted work site whether they may be able to remain open.

Our business is a food wholesale, manufacture, and distributor of health and organic products to independent health food retailers and supermarkets. My understanding is that we are an “ancillary business” that can operate on site with restricted operations.

As a food manufacturer and wholesaler you may be permitted to “open for on-site work”.

What are the requirements for a COVIDSafe Plan?

Any business continuing to operate under Stage 4 Restrictions is required to meet COVIDSafe Plan obligations for the prevention and management of COVID-19, including development of a COVIDSafe Plan. High risk areas including construction, warehousing, distribution centres, meat processing, cold storage, and aged care will need a High Risk COVIDSafe Plan

When do I need to complete a COVIDSafe Plan, what form does it need to be, and do I have to lodge it with the Victorian Government?

A COVIDSafe Plan is required to be completed by 11:59pm this Friday 7 August 2020. The Victorian Government will provide a COVIDSafe Plan template soon, which will have three tiers. You will not be required to use the template, but it is expected that it will give you a good structure to follow. There will be no requirement to lodge the COVIDSafe Plan but you will be required to present it when asked.

Meat processors and distribution centres are required to reduce their capacity by 33 per cent when compared to peak capacity. What is meant by “peak capacity” and does this relate to employees or production capacity?

We are yet to confirm what is meant by “peak capacity”. The Premier at his press conference today indicated that peak capacity was related to the business’ capacity last week and not the peak capacity across a longer period. The aim of this requirement is to reduce the number of people on site in these high-risk industries.

I am a meat processor outside metropolitan Melbourne, do the “industry specific obligations” apply to my business.

Yes. The obligations apply to all meat, meat product and seafood processing and distribution centres in Victoria.

The Employer Fact Sheet on the Business Victoria website says that “unless an exemption applies, ensure that workers do not work across multiple sites, or for multiple employers”. What criteria is there for an exemption? How do we get an exemption?

The Stage 4 restriction list only mentions a restriction on multiple work sites in relation to meat processing and distribution. We are currently seeking further information about how far these restrictions are intended to apply and whether exemptions can be granted.

More information:
Tim Piper, Head - Victoria, Ai Group, is hosting a webinar tomorrow afternoon at 2pm to further discuss the issues facing Victorian businesses during Stage 4 restrictions. 

Read more and register here

Please do not hesitate to contact the Workplace Advice Line on 1300 55 66 77 or workplaceadvice@aigroup.com.au for advice. You can access up-to-date resources online via our COVID-19 Advice and Resources page. Any questions about JobKeeper should be sent to jobkeeper@aigroup.com.au.