To: CCF Victoria staff, members and stakeholders.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Update – From the CEO desk.

5.00pm   Monday, 3 August 2020

Good afternoon.

Further to my update yesterday, from 6pm on 2 August 2020, Melbourne moved to Stage 4 restrictions with stronger rules to limit the movement of people. From 11:59pm on Wednesday, 5 August 2020, all of regional Victoria will move to Stage 3 “Stay at Home” restrictions. For the latest information on these restrictions, please visit the Department of Health and Human Services.

Many of you have asked over the last 24hr period, what happens next in terms of permitted work – what I can assure all members is that our message to Government has been heard “loud and clear.”  The Victoria Premier – the Hon Daniel Andrews, this afternoon provided further details on which industries will be shut down as the state struggles to contain the COVID-19 outbreak. The following is a brief summary of the announcements made as it relates to our industry sector:

  1. “The Statistics” (number of Covid-19 cases in Victoria)

As at Monday 3 August 2020, Victoria recorded:

  • 429 new COVID-19 cases over the last 24 hours and 13 further deaths (the State’s equal deadliest day) bringing the total in Victoria to 136. 
  • 8 of the 13 of these fatalities were linked to the Aged Care sector bringing the total to 1061.
  • 25,000 tests have been conducted over the last 24 hours
  • there are now 6489 active cases in Victoria;
  • 386 cases in Regional Victoria;

2. Business as Usual (essential services)

Restrictions are predominantly targeted towards Metropolitan Melbourne (unless otherwise advised).  Those businesses that will remain open under “Business as Usual” include supermarkets, grocery stores, bottle shops, pharmacies, petrol stations, banks, newsagencies, post offices – plus everyone involved in the frontline COVID-19 response.  They will continue to operate.

3. Other Industries with reduced hours or restricted access

A number of industries will be permitted to operate – but under significantly different conditions and significantly reduced workforces. 

In the meat industry and based on the minimum required to operate safely onsite, the workforce will be scaled back to two-thirds. Recognising the risk these sites have posed here, this will apply to abattoirs in Melbourne and across the state.  Warehousing and distribution centres in Melbourne will be limited to no more than two-thirds the normal workforce allowed onsite at any one time.

Construction Industry (Metro Melbourne):

  • Very large scale major projects – Government involved (to date, the State Government has already cut by half major state infrastructure projects and these are being reviewed to practically reduce to a practical minimum number of workers;
  • Commercial Building sites (must be > 3 stories ..reduced workforce not > 25% of contractor workforce in situ);
  • Domestic Homes (unlawful if > 5 people on site at any one time);

The attached Appendix A, has been issued by the State Government to provide further clarity.  Under Stage 4 ‘Stay at Home’ Restrictions the default is that workplaces in metropolitan Melbourne are closed unless the workplace is part of a permitted industry as set out in the attachment.  The tables outlines examples of workplaces that are closed for on-site work, open for on-site work with a COVID Safe Plan, and where there are restricted operations or industry specific obligations, ie:

You will also note that this information is subject to the Directions of Victoria’s Chief Health Officer.

The Premier remained silent at his Press Conference in regards to civil construction but we can assume that similar workforce limitations will apply to bother horizontal and vertical construction sectors inless otherwise advised.  However, he did say that permitted industries (ie: essential services – front line services) that remain open, will be allowed to travel into Regional Victoria (Stage 3 areas) BUT any individual with COVID-19 symptoms are to get tested, remain at home and DO NOT travel. 

More announcements to be made over coming days and I have a formal briefing this evening and tomorrow morning with Building & Construction Working Group.  I will endeavour to provide you with more details including the exemptions tabled this afternoon by the Premier.  He did say at his press conference today that there would be a new “permit system” introduced to allow exempt workers to travel to and from work when challenged by authorities.  In addition, for those businesses and industries that fall into grey areas when it comes to their operation, a dedicated Industry Coordination Centre within the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions will consider their case.  

4. Industries / business that are to close if work cannot be done remotely, or from home)

Industries where onsite operations will have to cease for the next 6 weeks include retail, some manufacturing and administration. These businesses will all need to close by 11:59pm Wednesday 5 August, unless they have specific circumstances that mean they need longer to shutdown safely. 

Retail stores will only be permitted to operate contactless ‘click and collect’ and delivery services with strict safety protocols in place, and hardware stores can remain open onsite, but for tradespeople only.

5. Federal Government Support

The Prime Minister announced late today that any worker that does not have available sick leave from his employer and is “stood down” for a period of 14-days to self-isolate under COVID-19, as a result of the instructions from a public health officer, will be eligible for a disaster payment of $1500 in the same way as employers receive the JobKeeper Payment Scheme.  Employees can receive the payment on multiple times, should they have the need to self-isolate.

6. Further announcements made on Business Impact & Business Support

The announced restrictions will have a significant impact on everyone over the next six weeks as they’re unlike anything we have dealt with before. CCF Victoria is here to support our members and assist you navigate through this next phase.

The Premier announced at his Press Conference that all businesses in Regional Victoria forced to close under stage 3 restrictions, will be eligible for a $5k State Government grant.  This will also be extended to metropolitan businesses under stage 4 restrictions, who will now may be eligible to receive a further $5k grant, in addition to the existing $5k grant already received.

I encourage all CCF members to bookmark the Business Victoria coronavirus business support webpage for the latest information on the support available to businesses across Victoria.  Their hotline is ready to answer questions about what these restrictions mean for you, our members. Call 13 22 15 to speak to one of Business Victoria’s agents who are available seven days a week.

During this period, you may want to access Business Victoria’s free mentoring program, which pairs business owners with someone who can help them adapt their current business strategy to survive the impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19).  Also through Upskill My Business, business owners can gain practical skills from the state’s top education providers and industry experts – to set you up for a strong recovery.

Finally, I would encourage all of  you to stay strong and seek clarification on your personal business circumstances.  Review and discuss your financial situation with your accountant and financial advisor, to assist you during these challenging times and help shore up finances while these restrictions are in place.

Until my next update …. keep safe – keep well.  

Kind regards

John Kilgour

CEO, CCF Victoria