Building sites across Melbourne will spring back to life this week as COVID restrictions ease on Monday.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews has confirmed that the state will take the second step along its reopening roadmap.
Under this step:
- Large construction sites may have up to the greater of 85 percent of their baseline workforce or 15 workers on site – up from 25 percent of their baseline workforce under Stage 4 lockdowns.
- On small construction sites, specialist trade contractors will be able to move between five sites in any given week (max. two sites per day) – up from three sites under Stage 4 restrictions.
- Density restrictions on early stage land development projects will ease, allowing up to 20 workers per hectare.
In a win for the sector, meanwhile, display homes, land sales offices, sales suites, and open for inspections will reopen by appointment only.
Specific rules and guidance will be confirmed in directions from the Chief Health Office which are expected over the next 48 hours.
This is a victory for the industry as the original roadmap envisioned that these facilities would remain closed until the third reopening step, which was initially not expected until October 26.
That had sparked concern that the industry may miss out on the spring sales season, thus compromising the pipeline of new home construction going into next year.
There had also been concern that the limited window between display home reopening and the cut-off date before which contracts need to be signed for consumers to be eligible for the Commonwealth HomeBuilder scheme would limit the benefit which Victoria’s home building industry would generate from this scheme.
In other changes confirmed on Sunday:
- Wearing of fitted facemasks which cover the nose and mouth will now be mandatory throughout Victoria. Scarfs, bandana and face shields are no longer accepted.
- Work related restrictions will be further eased across several other industries.
- Exercise is now allowed within 5km of workplaces for permitted workers as well as within 5km of homes.
- The night-time curfew has been removed.
- The state will no longer be held to the dates outlined in the original roadmap to reopening, but will look at case numbers as the trigger point for the next step. Based on current modelling, the next step of easing will occur on 19 October rather than 26 October as per the original roadmap.
- All primary school students will return to face-to-face learning in the week commencing 12 October.
In a statement, Premier Daniel Andrews said the latest round of easing has been able to be taken as rolling average numbers of new COVID infections had fallen from around 400 seven weeks ago to 22.1 today.
He said Victorians can see light at the end of the tunnel but encouraged people to continue to observe precautions including the wearing of masks.
“None of it’s easy. But all of it matters,” Andrews said.
“And every day, and every Victorian, is getting us that much closer to the other side.
“Whether you call it the final quarter, the home stretch, or the last push – we’re nearly there.
“We’ve got this.”
But State Opposition leader Michael O’Brien slammed the Government’s handling of the coronavirus.
“Too many businesses still closed. Too many kids still not going back to school. Too many unwarranted restrictions still on our lives,” O’Brien tweeted.
“Another failure of Labor to undo the damage its second wave has done to our state.”
The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry welcomed the announcement but called for an earlier transition to ‘COVID normal’ operations compared with what has been outlined in the recovery roadmap.