Major construction sites in Victoria will remain open but be restricted to 25 percent of their workforce whilst small scale building work will be limited to five people on site as the Government in that state ramps up the fight to contain COVID-19.

Following the tightening of restrictions on personal activities on Sunday, Victorian State Premier Danial Andrews has announced additional measures which will apply to businesses and workplaces during stage 4 restrictions.

Under the changes:

  • Essential businesses such as supermarkets, grocery stores, bottle shops, pharmacies, petrol stations, banks, newsagencies and post offices will remain open.
  • On-site operations of retail, some manufacturing and administration related businesses will have to close.
  • Other industries such as food production, warehousing, waste collection and construction will be permitted to operate but will need to do so under more stringent conditions including reductions to the number of workers on site.
  • All businesses which remain open will need a COVID Safe plan by midnight on Friday which will focus on safety and outline prevention measures along with response measures in the event that workplaces are linked to COVID.

In relation to construction specifically,

  • As with all businesses, all construction businesses will need to have a COVID Safe plan.
  • Large scale projects (more than three stories excluding the basement) can have a maximum of 25 percent of their normal workforce on site at any time, must demonstrate not blending shifts, must limit individual workers to only one site during Stage 4 restrictions and must have a High Risk COVID Safe Plan.
  • Small scale projects of less than three stories may have a maximum of five workers on site including supervisors and must have a universal COVID Safe Plan.
  • State and civil construction works are exempt from staff reduction targets, but will be required to implement a High Risk COVID Safe Plan.
  • Construction of critical and essential infrastructure and services to support these projects is open for business without staff restrictions but must still have a COVID Safe Plan.
  • Critical repairs to residential premises are allowed where required for emergency or safety.

In a statement, Andrews acknowledged the difficulty which the restrictions would place upon businesses but said the measures were necessary to limit people movement and infection rates.

“Yesterday, we asked Victorians to make some big sacrifices. Big, real and meaningful sacrifices,” Andrews said.

“Today, sadly, we need to ask the same of Victorian businesses and Victorian workers.”

“This will be hard. It’ll be frustrating. It’ll be confusing. For a lot of workers and their families, it’ll be heartbreaking.

“But the only way to get people back to work and businesses back open is by making these tough decisions – and by Victorians abiding by them.”

Master Builders Victoria acknowledged the government’s decision and the difficulties it faced in dealing with COVID.

Casson said the building industry has been proactive in mitigating COVID risk and that infection rates across the industry were below those within the general community but acknowledged that there were broader issues at play.

Casson said Master Builders would collaborate with governments, other industry groups and unions to ensure that the industry was ready to go as soon reopening was safe.