Further to our email on Sunday night, the Victorian Government announced yesterday that the lockdown restrictions will be extended in metropolitan Melbourne, until 11.59pm on Thursday, 2 September 2021. This is an additional 14 days on the previous directions and during this period a curfew will be imposed from 9pm to 5am every night. As people of Melbourne, we should look at the bright side: the curfew commences at 9.00pm and not 8.00pm as was announced in August 2020 lockdown last year!
The key items to note from the State Government & the Department of Health and Human Services (“DHHS”) are as follows:
We have attached:
1.1 The “210816 - Prem Statmt on Ext Melb Lockdown 16 Aug” which sets out the Premiers reasons why the State will extend the 6th lockdown since March 2020; and
1.2 The “210816 - 16 August Table of Restrictions” – please note all the items highlighted in yellow within the document as these are extended restrictions on the current lockdowns and apply from 9.00pm last night.
The maths to support the extensions set out in the Premiers Statement is: “The average exposure days, the number of days an infectious person is out in the community, was 0.61 and declining at this point of our previous outbreak. In the current outbreak the average exposure days is 1.8. To put that more simply: cases diagnosed yesterday were infectious in the community for a total of 15 days, compared to 0 for the same point during the last outbreak.”
Yesterday, the United Kingdom reported 26,750 new COVID cases and in total 47,302,445 people (89.4% of the adult population) have received a first dose and 40,577,198 people (76.7% of the adult population) a second dose of a vaccine. In Australia: only 24.36% of the population has been fully vaccinated and we are tracking to hit the 80% vaccination rates around 27 November 2021 (source https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news). So in our view, as the mathematics suggest, we will need to be prepared for interruptions to our businesses for at least the next three months unless the vaccination rates can be brought forward.
Can your Business Operate During 16 August 2021 to 2 September 2021
2.1 Over the past year there have been so many changes on which businesses can operate during various lockdowns that it isn’t worth trying to keep a track of them. As suggested in the Premiers Statement yesterday there are changes to the types of businesses that can operate during the extended lockdown period.
2.2 We now attach the “Authorised Provider and Authorised Worker List – 17 August 2021” – which is the key reference point to determine whether your business can remain open & your employees can be issued with a Permitted Work Permit (refer section 3 below) during the period 16 August 2021 to 2 September 2021!
2.3 Please review in detail the “Authorised Provider and Authorised Worker List – 17 August 2021” to determine whether your business will be allowed to operate during the extended lockdown period to 2 September 2021. Please feel free to contact ACS if you need to any assistance in this regard.
Documents that Should be Kept by all Businesses BUT importantly those that operate During 16 August 2021 to 2 September 2021
2.4 Please note that in previous lockdowns certain industries were allowed to operate with a COVID Safe Plan while some industries such as Construction, Meat Processing, Meat Processing (Excluding poultry and seafood), Medical and Pharmaceutical Supply Business, Supermarket Distribution Business, Warehousing and Distribution etc required a High Risk COVID Safe Plan – ACS provided templates provided in email dated 14 August 2020.
2.5 Your business should also keep a Workplace Attendance Register – ACS provided template provided in email dated 14 August 2020.
2.6 Your business should be utilizing QR CODES for workplace attendance.
It is import to note that all workplaces, now require all visitors and workers to check-in using the free Service Victoria QR Code app with limited exceptions. This is to ensure that if a positive case visits the workplace, contact tracers can simply and rapidly access the details of everyone else who was there at the same time. Contact tracers can then let these people know they have been exposed to a positive case of COVID-19, and what actions to take. Click here for more information on QR Code requirements https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/about-victorian-government-qr-code-service
2.6 We also remind you of the need to keep an Infection Control in the Workplace Policy – ACS provided template provided in email dated 14 August 2020.
2.7 COVID Marshals are mandatory for:
3.1 As set out in the Premiers Statement – “Permits will be required to leave the house for authorised work, consistent with the arrangements that were in place last year”.
3.2 Please see the Permitted Work Permit template – named VIC GOV Stage 6 Employee Permit Template 1082021 (Word version) as for your permitted employees who are able to work during the period to 2 September 2021.
4.1 During these tough time Employers may be able to stand down employees:
4.2 Please find attached the “VCCI Stand Down Factsheet 16082021” – Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry factsheet setting out a summary of the Stand Down provisions.
4.3 If applicable to your business, it is important that you make the decision to stand down your employees quickly and fairly. Under section 524 of the Fair Work Act, an employer can stand down an employee without pay where they can't usefully be employed because of a stoppage of work for any cause for which the employer can't reasonably be held responsible. If your business is impacted as a result of these restrictions then Section 524 of the Fair Work Act can apply. Please refer to the following link for further details:
4.4 It is important to understand that the changes to the Fair Work Act during the period JobKeeper applied no longer exist and the provisions that applied last year do not apply in the same way this time around. If a Stand down order is issued to the employee (please see template provided “Employee Stand Down Template Letter 17 August 2021” as a basis for the stand down order), then you should also advise that the employee can receive the Commonwealth Government COVID-19 Disaster Payment for Individuals. The employee that has been stood down may be eligible for financial support through the commonwealth governments COVID-19 Disaster Payment being up to $750.00 per week (if the employee lost 20 hours of work or more that week) or $375.00 per week (if the employee lost less than 20 hours of work a week). These amounts are tax free to the employee and can be applied through the employees My Gov account.
4.5 It is also important that you note that the employee will accrue their leave entitlements during the Stand Down period and unlike the JobKeeper period the employee obviously would not be required to work. Again if you need any assistance then please do not hesitate to contact ACS in regard to these provisions.
5.1 The Victorian government needs to make regular changes and amendments depending on what is occurring with the Corona Virus within the community. As a result you should continue to expect changes! We will update you as much as we can!
5.2 The updates that are relevant to this email is about the guidelines surrounding Permitted Work Premises under the Stage 6 Restrictions. These updates are difficult to keep up with and you need to make sure that you do not overlook these updates as they are critical in ensuring that your business remains compliant with the guidelines & regulations. ACS has been in regular contact with the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) who have advised us that the guidelines are being updated regularly and that each business should follow the guidelines for their specific industry. The information that is currently present on the business.gov.au and the DHHS websites are what needs to be abided by and any previous information that has been removed (or superseded) is no longer relevant. Given this, it is important that we are reviewing these guidelines daily. We have provided the summary below to assist you in gathering the correct information for your business.
5.3 The websites that you need to monitor on a daily basis are:
210816 - Premiers Statement on Extended Melbourne Lockdown
210816 - Table of Restrictions
Authorised provider and authorised worker list - 17 August 2021
Employee Stand Down Template Letter 17 August 2021
VCCI Stand Down Factsheet 16082021
VIC GOV Stage 6 Employee Permit Template 17082021
Please contact the ACS Team if you need any assistance.