Last updated: Wednesday 28th July
Many states and territories around Australia are going back into lockdowns or still experiencing some level of restrictions. By now, you’d think we’d have much clearer definitions of lockdown stages, essential workers and better guidance in place, but a year and a half on, many of us are still left scratching our heads about what we can and can’t do.
It’s hard enough knowing what we are allowed to do in our personal lives, let alone knowing how this affects your trades business and your employees.
To make matters even more confusing, restrictions and advice differ from state to state, so we’ve compiled this guide to help you understand your state or territory specific rules, plus some handy tips to keep your business moving further down.
New South Wales
Greater Sydney including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour are under stay-at-home orders until 12:01am on Saturday, 28th August 2021.
A two-week hiatus on construction in Greater Sydney and its surrounds is set to end from 12:01am this Saturday, 30th July but there are major restrictions still in place.
Construction will still be banned in eight LGAs – Fairfield, Canterbury-Bankstown, Liverpool, Parramatta, Georges River, Cumberland, Campbelltown and Blacktown. Construction workers from those areas will also not be allowed to leave their LGAs for work.
Outside those areas, construction in non-occupied settings will be permitted, but the number of workers on site will be capped at one per 4 square metres. A non-occupied setting means construction sites where there are no residents.
Tradies, and cleaners, will be able to work on occupied construction sites as long as they don’t have contact with residents. However, in these smaller settings, no more than two workers will be permitted inside and five outside.
The Victorian Government has announced the lifting of lockdown on at midnight on Tuesday 27 July 2021. Victorians will be able to leave their homes for any reason. The Authorised Worker List will no longer apply, meaning businesses and venues can reopen with capacity and density limits of 1 person per 4sqm. Victoria will return to the rule that ‘if you can work from home, you should work from home’ but office workers will be able to return up to 25 per cent or up to 10 people, whichever is greater.
From Friday 16 July until Friday 23 July restrictions for South East Queensland will continue, with requirements for face masks and other restrictions in place to protect Queensland.
The South Australian Government has announced the lifting of lockdown on at midnight on Tuesday 27 July 2021.
For now, until the lockdown lifts, South Australian tradies and trade businesses, work can only continue for essential repairs and services under the essential workers exemption. Keep an eye on the SA Government’s Business Restrictions and Closures hub for further developments as well as the SA Government’s activity restriction levels hub.
Tradies can continue to work in Western Australia ensuring they adhering to their COVID-safe plans. Keep an eye on the WA Government’s website and monitor what you can and can’t do under the current restrictions.
If you’re a tradie or run a trades business in Tasmania, work is allowed. Worksafe Tasmania has all the details on COVID safe guidelines, saftey plans and checklists for businesses. The Tasmanian Government is also providing guidance and frameworks for small businesses.
Australian Capital Territory
In the Northern Territory, businesses can operate under the CHO directions. According to the latest guidance, under these directions, general business and organisations must have a COVID-19 safety plan, which they must comply with, provide a safe and sanitary environment for their employees, practice physical distancing and appoint a COVID Safety Supervisor to facilitate the implementation of their businesses COVID-19 Safety Plan.
COVID Safe Principles For Construction
1. Ensure physical distancing (1.5 metres)
Where possible, work from home. Ensure your administration staff have access to hardware (i.e. laptops, internet, phone) and software (i.e. their login details) so they can continue working efficiently from home.
For onsite workers, physical distancing of at least 1.5 metres should be implemented wherever possible. Employers should consider each work task and whether there is a safe alternative way to undertake the work with an increased distance between workers.
2. Wear a mask or face covering
Where possible or if required by state law, a face mask or covering helps stop the spread of COVID-19.
3. Practice good hygiene
Good hygiene practices and general cleaning helps with minimising the spread of COVID-19. Employers should review general hygiene requirements and the cleaning regimes in place and display health information in prominent locations on site such as tea rooms, site offices, toilets, foyers, lifts and site entrances.
Ensure that appropriate amenities are available to staff for hygiene purposes, i.e. hand-washing. Workers should avoid the shared use of tools, plant and equipment wherever possible.
4. Keep good records and act quickly if staff become unwell
Ensure your workers know what is expected of them should they feel unwell. It’s the employer’s responsibility to make sure they’re doing the right thing by their workers, including ensuring those with symptoms — and potentially the virus — do not come to work.
5. Avoid interactions in close spaces
Move as much activity outside as possible, think toolbox talks, site inductions etc. For this restriction, it’s important to consider staggering shifts and break times to ensure appropriate social distancing within your team. Minimise the use of common areas.
Fergus Forms and Checklists
If you are a Fergus user, we highly recommend you make use of our Contact Tracing forms and onsite Health & Safety checklists. These are ready to go templates that you can start using now.
How Can I Keep My Business Moving Under Restrictions Or In A Lockdown?
Another round of lockdowns and restriction have put additional stress on many already struggling businesses. Aside from the formalities, there are a number of things you can do now that will help to remove some of the fear and uncertainty that many of you will be feeling.
If you can, try to shift your focus from the things you can’t control, to the things you can. We have a lot of content on the Fergus TradeHub to help you through these uncertain times.
If work is slumping or you have a little downtime, we strongly recommend you take some time to read our advice. There is information specifically on how to:
- Take control of your finances Under these new restrictions you will need to work out what it is going to take to remain financially solvent. Visit our TradeHub for advice on getting to grips with your finances and cashflow forecasting.
- Connect and communicate with customers Customers are your lifelines, but remember they too are affected by this. You will need to talk with your customers, work out what money you can realistically get in the door and what work will be continued when you come out the other side.
- Demonstrate strong leadership for your team It’s times like this that really test your leadership skills. There will be hard decisions to make and possibly difficult conversations to be had. Be honest about the difficult situation you are in, but have a plan and communicate the plan with your team.
- Stimulus and Support The Fair Work Ombudsman website has some useful information about the JobKeeper wage subsidy scheme, pay and leave entitlements, stand downs from work, workplace health and safety, and more.
- Use this time to increase the efficiency of your business How many times have you uttered the words, if only we had time to do X? Use any downtime to take action, do the things you have put on the back-burner. Upskill yourself and your team and get your business in the best shape possible for when the city comes to life again.
It can all be a little confusing at times, so for more information on state specific COVID health advice, restrictions, work and general info, the Australian Government’s Health Direct website has a handy state by state breakdown, with useful links that can hopefully demystify some unanswered questions you might have.
With entering lockdowns yet again, it can undoubtedly be tough on all of us. Make sure to check out our blog with Tips for Supporting Tradies’ Mental Health or if you or someone you know is struggling during this time, reach out to Beyond Blue or Lifeline to talk things through with a mental health professional.
Watch our webinar recording: How to get your trades business through lockdown.