7-Day Snap Lockdown Announced in City of Latrobe.

Victoria’s Acting Chief Health Officer has declared that the City of Latrobe entered a seven-day lockdown commencing at 11:59pm last night, 28 September, with restrictions the same as those in metropolitan Melbourne (excluding the curfew).

Caseloads in the City of Latrobe have rapidly increased in recent days, with 18 active cases currently in this Local Government Area (LGA) # as of 28 September. A further 4 cases have been confirmed yesterday, and will be reported in today’s numbers.

The public health teams have significant concerns about onward transmission in the Latrobe Valley and have determined that the seven-day lockdown is needed to limit growth in cases, as it did in Ballarat and Geelong.  Lock-down restrictions have now been removed from both these LGA’s, together with Surf Coast Shire.

# the lifting of restrictions in these areas means Building & Construction works can re-commence in accordance with restrictions and density quotients previously in place for regional Victoria.

What does this mean for construction works in the City of Latrobe?

We have already fielded enquiries this morning from a number of CCF members with projects in the Latrobe LGA.  We refer you to our CCF Member Alert dated 22 September, which provided details of the Workplace Directions (no 45) covering works in restricted areas. 

Based on the current Workplace Directions, construction workers are not allowed to work in restricted areas unless the project is:

(a) for safety reasons, or to secure & make safe; or

(b) listed as a state critical infrastructure project

# refer section 38 below, ie:

CLICK HERE to view Workplace Directions document

This means that work on “early stage land development sites” in the Restricted area is prohibited until further notice.

The CCF notes that subject to prescribed density limits and other measures, construction sites, including “early stage land development sites”, may continue to operate in Regional Victoria where the LGA is not a Restricted Area.

As previously advised, penalties for failing to comply with these Health Directions are:

  • Individual:         $21,808.80;
  • Company:         $109,044.00;

Advocacy & Representation on the roadmap to Re-opening.

I have been engaged with a small working group of employer associations and unions since last Friday and we worked over the last weekend on a submission to Government to re-open on 5th October.

Our roadmap to re-opening proposes greater MOBILITY between Metropolitan and Regional worksites and INCREASED workforce capacities with a range of enhanced COVIDSafe measures, that include:

  • Clear measures for collection and recording of vaccination obligations;
  • Access permitted to Meal Rooms, Amenities with Improved Airflow and Ventilation;
  • COVID Marshals with approved infection control training:

# It is proposed that site supervisors, or a person undertaking a supervisory role and transient across multiple worksites; can be the nominated COVID Marshal for small scale construction and early stage land development.

  • Strengthened compliance regime from industry regulators;
  • Greater engagement by Department of Health with our Industry;
  • Ongoing communications to our cultural and linguistically diverse (CALD) workforce;

There has been a clear commitment by the Victorian Government at both Ministerial and Departmental level to assist industry with the formulation and advocacy of this plan.

I will be meeting with the Industry Co-ordination and Recovery team of DJPR on further industry briefings. We then await Department of Health and Cabinet consideration of the plan with a decision expected in the next few days.

IN THE INTERIM, there are some sensible preparatory actions that can be taken by employers in anticipation of a return to work next week on whatever terms are approved by government, ie:

  1. REVIEW the airflow and ventilation standards in all meal rooms and ablutions on all your sites. There is authoritative guidance available from our own industry experts in Appendix  8.5 of the Industry COVID-19 Guidelines. 
  2. ENSURE that your COVID Marshals are identified and trained in infection control. The Dept Health website has a link to state accredited courses and a federal government online course. The Centre for U also has an accredited course specifically for the construction industry – CLICK HERE.
  3. When the details of the re-opening requirements are known and prior to recommencing, we will issue a concise summary of the Industry Guidelines, which contain the most comprehensive package of guidance available to employers and the workforce in this industry. This summary will be available to re-induct returning workers on 5 October on COVIDSafe work practices such as the importance of PROPERLY wearing face masks, PROPERLY observing physical distancing and hygiene measures.

# Work is expected to be permitted on site to prepare for a COVIDSafe re-opening.