To: CCF Victoria staff, members and stakeholders.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update – From the CEO Desk.
A week can pass quite quickly at the moment and much has happened during this time. This includes key announcements made by the State Government covering further small business stimulus / support packages and an easing of current stage 3 restrictions in Regional Victoria.
The following is a summary of these key announcements, together with an update of our work with the Building & Construction Industry Working Group.
Number of Covid-19 cases in Victoria
There were 42 new positive cases reported in Victoria yesterday. The average number of cases diagnosed in the last 14 days for metropolitan Melbourne has reduced to 52.9 and regional Victoria is 3.6, which continues to get closer to the government’s trigger for the easing of restrictions (average 30-50 cases in Metro Melbourne). There has been one further positive case in the Building and Construction Industry reported yesterday. This was a demolition worker who worked on two separate sites. It is pleasing to note that DHHS were very prompt in ordering deep cleaning of sites (completed yesterday), cleaning of affected plant and equipment was also done as was contact tracing of 6 close contacts.
Stage 3 Restrictions Update in Regional Victoria
It is great to see announcements made today by the Premier that over the last 14-days COVID-19 has averaged 3.6, and with no mystery cases, Regional Victoria has reached the necessary “trigger point” to progress to the next step of Victoria’s roadmap to re-opening. This is fantastic news for our regional CCF members and their family with Regional Victoria moving to the 3rd step of Government’s roadmap to reopening from 11.59 PM Wednesday, 16 September 2020.
What does this mean for how Regional Victorians will live and work ?
- Regional real estate agents will be able to hold auctions outdoors with up to 10 people.
- Travel can resume for regional Victorians holidaying anywhere in regional Victoria
- “Household bubbles” are now permitted, where your household can choose one other household to be in a bubble. You can visit them in their home. They can visit you in your home with up to a total of 5 visitors.
- People will be able to gather in groups of ten in outdoor public places, without a limit on the number of households.
- Outdoor contact and non-contact sport will begin for regional Victorians aged 18 and under, as well as outdoor non-contact sport for adults.
- Staged return to onsite learning for all regional students in the first two weeks of Term Four.
- The numbers for weddings and funerals will increase, and religious gatherings can happen outdoors with up to 10 people.
- Hospitality businesses will be able to serve patrons outdoors, with a cap of 50 seated patrons per venue, and an updated ‘two square metre’ density limit in place.
- Indoors, venues can open with a cap of 10 seated customers per space – with up to two spaces per venue – and in line with the existing ‘four square metre’ density rule.
Details of the 3rd step for Regional Victoria can be found on the Premier’s website.
With a 14-day average of 52.9, the Premier also confirmed that Melbourne is on track to reach the Second Step of reopening by 28 September, 2020.
Please note, that all businesses across Victoria (regional & Melbourne) will be required to have a COVIDSafe Plan, enforceable from this date. Please refer the following link to obtain the latest COVIDSafe Plan and ‘High Risk’ COVIDSafe Plans with the latter to be deployed for the civil construction industry.
State Government Announcements covering Business Stimulus and Support Packages
The Victorian Government’s Outdoor Eating and Entertainment Package was announced yesterday, that will provide $87.5m to councils and businesses outside of Melbourne’s CBD. Key funding announcements included:
- $58m ($5k grants) to help hospitality businesses (ie: licensed and unlicensed cafés, restaurants, takeaway food businesses, pubs, taverns, bars and clubs) with a payroll of less than $3m.
- $29.5m to local councils ($500k metro & $250k regional) to help implement expanded outdoor dining (3rd step of Roadmap to re-opening). This money can also be passed on to businesses in the form of reducing or waiving permit fees, or invested in infrastructure such as streetscaping and lighting.
- $100m to reshape Melbourne’s CBD (in partnership with the City of Melbourne).
- $30m in small business grants to pay for equipment and convert spaces (rooftops and courtyards) into hospitality zones and remodel internal layouts.
- $30m in COVIDSafe events and cultural activities to attract visitors back to the CBD when it’s safe to do so.
- $40m towards providing physical improvements to the CBD streetscape (wider footpaths, bollards and street planter boxes).
- $100m new ‘Sole Trader Support Fund’ ($3k grants) to eligible sole traders working in sectors of the economy that will continue to be affected by restrictions. To be eligible for a grant, sole traders must be a tenant or licensee in a commercial premises or location and operate in a sector of the economy that is restricted, heavily restricted or not opening under the Second Step of the Roadmap.
We also saw on Sunday, over $3bn in grants, tax relief and cashflow support for Victorian businesses announced by the Treasurer, Tim Pallas, and the Minister for Industry Support and Recovery, Martin Pakula.
Key funding announcements included:
- $1.1bn in cash grants will support small and medium sized businesses. Includes $822m as part of the3rd round of the Business Support Fund. Businesses with payrolls up to $10m will be eligible to receive grants of $10k, $15k or $20k depending on size.
- $251m ‘Licenced Venue Fund’ will be established with grants of between $10k – $30k available (liquor license fees for 2021 will be waived).
- The Government will also partner with local business groups and chambers of commerce, with grants of up to $20,000 so they can help and assist their members .
- $1.7 bn ‘cashflow boost’ with the deferral payroll tax for businesses with payrolls up to $10m for the full 2020-21 financial year.
- $137m in waivers and deferrals of charges including liquor licence fees, the congestion levy and increases to the landfill levy.
- 50% stamp duty discount for commercial and industrial property across all of regional Victoria will be brought forward to 1 January 2021.
- Vacant Residential Land Tax will be waived for properties that are vacant in 2020.
- $15.7m export recovery package to address logistics and supply chain issues caused by the pandemic, and establish new export channels.
Additional details about support for businesses and eligibility is availablee at www.business.vic.gov.au.
Permitted Worker Permit Scheme
Further to my communication / CEO update last week, the following advice is extracted from the DHHS website in regard to the Permitted Worker Permits, for your information.
- If businesses have issued permits with future date ranges, they do not need to reissue permitted worker permits.
- Businesses can edit and add to the dates on the permitted worker permits they have currently issued to workers if required.
- A new childcare permit does not need to be issued for permitted workers (remote or onsite) who have childcare permits.
Please continue to keep an eye out for updates on the DHHS website. https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/permitted-worker-scheme-covid-19
Building & Construction (B&C) Industry Working Group
A meeting of the COVID-19 Building and Construction (B&C) Industry Working Group was conducted last Friday 11 September.
At the meeting we discussed developments as we work towards the next stage of the B&C Road Maps for relevant sectors. We also discussed developing a ‘Terms of Reference’ for the on-going engagement of the group in the ensuing months’ ahead. The next version 8 of the B&C Industry guidelines is being worked on and will be reviewed with the Chief Health Officer in line with the step process to return to COVID Norm. I will provide you further updates to you on any relevant or key issues leading up to the release of this documentation. It is clear that the guidelines will form a key part of your ‘High Risk” COVIDSafe Plans.
Cleaning and Disinfection
DHHS last week released a revised guidance document ‘How to clean and disinfect after a COVID-19 case in non-healthcare settings. The document – Information for cleaners, business owners, managers and individuals – 10 September 2020’ can be found via the following link:
Relevant to recent reports about regular cleaning on worksites, the following guidance is provided in this material about fogging processes:
‘DHHS DOES NOT RECOMMEND the use of dry or wet fogging for COVID-19 cleaning and disinfection.’
Until my next update …. keep well – keep safe.
CEO, CCF Victoria