From 11.59pm, Tuesday 5 August 2020, businesses in Metropolitan Melbourne must be closed for onsite work unless they are a “Permitted Work Premises”.
Workplaces are either:
- required to be closed for on-site work (working from home will still be permitted);
- permitted to be open for on-site work, provided appropriate safety measures are in place, such as a COVID Safe Plan; or
- permitted to be open for on-site work with restricted operations or industry specific obligations.
Businesses which can remain open include supermarkets, grocery stores, bottle shops, pharmacies, petrol stations, banks, newsagencies, post offices, frontline businesses including health care providers.
Businesses which must close include other retail, some manufacturing and administration, unless there are specific circumstances meaning they need longer to shut down safely.
Businesses which can operate subject to restrictions include food production, waste collection and supply chain logistics can continue to operate but under significantly different conditions.
Abattoirs, along with warehousing and distribution centres, must scale back their workforce to two-thirds. The Premier announced last night that he would give major warehouses and distributions an extra 48 hours to comply with this requirement.
Major construction sites may only have up to 25% of the normal workforce onsite, and small-scale construction will be limited to a maximum of 5 people onsite.
Retail stores can operate contactless ‘click and collect’ and delivery services with strict safety protocols in place, and hardware stores can remain open onsite for tradespeople only.
There are also additional requirements including a COVID-Safe Plan, extra PPE, staggering shifts and breaks, health declarations and more support for sick workers to ensure they stay home.
The Victorian Government has released a table that summarises which businesses will be Permitted Work Premises and therefore permitted to continue to open for onsite work.
The Victorian Government has also confirmed that:
- “Ancillary” and “support” businesses are able to open on-site to ensure the necessary production, supply, manufacture, repair, maintenance, cleaning, security, wholesale, distribution, transportation or sale of equipment, goods or services required for the operations:
- of a Permitted Work Premises (in other words, if a business is required to support a worksite that is allowed under Stage 4 Restrictions to be open e.g. aged care, health, food businesses etc, they will also be allowed to remain open for that purpose only); or
- for Closed Work Premises where there are safety or environmental obligations.
- Services and ancillary services that relate to the COVID-19 health response are Permitted Work Premises.
- Services connected with animal health, husbandry, or welfare, including the RSPCA, are Permitted Work Premises.
- Union/peak body/employer organisation officials attending a worksite as permitted by law or for Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) advice is permitted.
Even though Permitted Work Premises can remain operational, it is important to emphasise that they may only have employees on-site if it is not reasonably practicable for the employee to work from home. This means that some employees performing ‘Permitted Work’ may be doing so from home.
These restrictions are in place for 6 weeks, however depending on the sustained level of infection of COVID-19 in Metropolitan Melbourne, may be extended.
For those businesses that are required to close and working from home is not possible, there are a number of options available to employers to manage staff during this period, including stand downs (including JobKeeper Enabling Stand Downs or Directions), directing employees to take leave, reducing hours of work by agreement or, where there are no other alternatives, redundancy. See our previous updates for more information.