Workers who operate on construction sites in Victoria will need to get COVID vaccinations if they wish to continue working from next Thursday after the government in that state announced new health measures to address COVID transmissions on construction sites.

But Victorians will have more social freedoms with the state about to reach 70 percent for the first COVID vaccination.

In its latest announcement, the Victorian Government has unveiled a range of measures which are designed to curb COVID transmissions on construction sites.

Under the measures, from midnight on Thursday August 23, all workers on construction sites will need to show evidence that they have had at least their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine in order to continue working.

Limited medical exemptions and proof-of-booking exceptions will apply in line with previous requirements for residential aged care workers.

In other measures which regarding the sector:

  • Construction workers will no longer be allowed to cross the metropolitan Melbourne-regional Victoria boundary for work
  • Tea rooms on sites will close
  • Food and drink will not be able to be consumed indoors at work
  • Worker shift bubbles will need be in practice
  • COVIDsafe marshals will be required at all construction sites.

The measures come as the state’s construction sector was put on notice earlier this week that its ability to remain open was contingent upon reducing COVID spread on sites.

As part of this, the sector is being subject to a four-week blitz on COVID compliance, and has been prioritised for vaccine appointments.

This comes as cases from a cluster linked to a Box Hill construction site now stand at 147.

The latest moves also come as the sector needs to achieve a 90 percent first-dose vaccination rate in order for current capacity limits to be eased.

When this happens, the current 25 percent capacity limit on sites will be increased to 50 percent.

Outside of construction, the news is more encouraging as the Government has also announced a modest easing of social restrictions.

As a result, from midnight tonight:

  • There will be a sixth permitted reason to leave home, for outdoor social interaction. This allows one person to meet another person not from their household for a picnic, walk or other outdoor activity, while up to five adults (plus dependents) from two households can gather outdoors if all adults are fully vaccinated
  • The distance you can leave home for exercise, shopping for necessary goods and outdoor social gatherings expands to 10 kilometres, and the time limit is now up to four hours
  • Child-minding for school aged children will be permitted where one parent is an authorised worker.

From Saturday, meanwhile, private real-estate inspections will be allowed at unoccupied properties for the purposes of new purchase or end of lease.

This includes at properties where people reside, although the people in question cannot be present.

Those conducting the inspection can only be from one household and the agent must stay outside the property throughout.

Auctions remain closed and must still be conducted remotely.

Building industry lobby groups welcomed the measures.

“Mandatory vaccinations are a win for the property and construction sectors and our workforce, and a win for the Victorian community and economy.,” the Property Council of Australia said in a statement.

“Mandatory vaccinations will protect workers and the broader Victorian community, keep construction sites safe and boost jobs and important economic activity for Victoria as we begin to emerge from lockdown.

“The construction industry is currently operating at 25 per cent capacity and increased vaccination rates will mean the sector can increase its capacity and deliver critical projects to drive our economic recovery.

“It’s why the property industry had already partnered with the construction sector to urge everyone to “Get the Jab Done’ and get Victoria moving again. Mandating vaccinations will accelerate our recovery and we applaud the Victorian Government for taking this important step.

Master Builder Victoria CEO Rebecca Casson agrees, saying that mandatory vaccination had become necessary amid the growing concern about outbreaks on construction sites.

“Our industry’s continued operation is the reason our state’s economy is not declining,” Casson said.

“However, we acknowledge that our industry’s obligation to continue to work comes with significant responsibilities.

“That’s one of the reasons Master Builders Victoria’s Council of Management this week resolved to restate our organisation’s support that COVID-19 vaccinations must be mandated by the Victorian Government.

“This is essential to keep our workforce COVIDSafe and so that the building and construction industry can achieve the vaccination rate targets set by the Chief Health Officer (CHO).”