COVID-19 Updates
Chrystal Dias

The Premier today announced further changes to COVID-19 restrictions for Victoria.

The ‘COVIDSafe Summer’ requirements that have been announced will be in place until at least the end of January 2021 to give Victorian more certainty about what the next couple of months will look like.

Many of the changes relate to social gatherings and hospitality services. There were some minor but important changes that will impact the residential building industry around the wearing of face masks and the return to offices and workplaces.

The Premier’s press release can be found here.

What has changed for residential building businesses?

Face Masks

From midnight 6 December, face masks will only be mandatory indoors in certain settings. This includes on public transport, in rideshare vehicles and taxis, and in some retail settings including indoor shopping centres, supermarkets, department stores and indoor markets (unless a lawful exemption applies).

For other settings, masks are now recommended indoors or outdoors when social distancing is not able to be maintained.

People are still required to carry a face mask at all times so it can be used when social distancing is not possible.

What does this mean for residential building settings?

For indoor work on a building site and indoor work in an office, face masks will need to be worn where social distancing can not be maintained.

For outdoor work on a building site face masks will need to be worn where social distancing cannot be maintained.

For display homes face masks are still recommended for the time being as they are considered to be a retail premises. However, we have asked for further clarity and we will further advise the full requirements for display homes when this is provided in the legal documents available tomorrow.

All other COVIDSafe requirements remain in place – including COVIDSafe Plans, the density quota and all COVID cleaning and other requirements for workplaces.

Importantly, OHS requirements on sites around PPE continue to be in place for specific tasks that would normally require this.

Offices – other requirements

It was announced today that offices will be able to increase their workforce to 50 per cent from 11 January 2021 – or for workplaces with fewer than 40 staff, up to 20 staff can be onsite – subject to public health advice.

All other COVIDSafe requirements remain in place for offices and other workplaces – including COVIDSafe Plans, employers monitoring attendance, the density quota and all COVID cleaning and other requirements for workplaces.

Real Estate activities

Real estate inspections and auctions will be able to operate with a density quotient of 1 per 2sqm, subject to use of electronic record keeping. If not using electronic record keeping, the density quotient of 1 per 4sqm continues to apply.

Next Steps

The Premier has advised that these requirements will be in place now until the end of summer. More about today’s COVIDSafe Summer information is available here.

The Business Victoria Website also continues to provide guidance around current requirements for operating in the construction industry.

It is vital that as an industry we remain vigilant and continue to follow all COVID safety requirements – including site signage, social distancing, record keeping and other requirements.

HIA continues to recommend that residential builders follow the HIA Making Space on Site Guidelines that best suit your construction site or workplace. HIA’s Safescan QR Codes can also assist you with electronic record keeping options.

Finally HIA will review the legal documents as they become available and further advice on any other matters that arise will be provided to members as soon as possible.

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