The COVID-19 lockdowns are having a massive impact on trades businesses. Here’s what you need to know about state and territory lockdown rules around Australia
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.
From 5pm on Sunday 8th August, the suburbs in Penrith: Caddens, Claremont Meadows, Colyton, Erskine Park, Kemps Creek, Kingswood, Mount Vernon, North St Marys, Orchard Hills, Oxley Park, St Clair, and St Mary’s will be under the same lockdown restrictions as the LGAs of Bayside, Blacktown, Burwood, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Liverpool, Parramatta, Strathfield.
Construction work is permitted at sites in Greater Sydney, including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour local government areas (but excluding sites in the Bayside, Blacktown, Burwood, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Liverpool, Parramatta, Strathfield local government areas) with each site required to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan.
For work carried out at homes where people are living check out the government's hub with all the information on carrying out renovations, repairs, maintenance and cleaning.
All work, including prescribed work (renovations, repairs, maintenance and cleaning), is allowed to commence or continue provided you follow the rules as they are set out in each area.
For more information, check out the NSW Government’s COVID website and the NSW Government hub for Greater Sydney.
The Victorian Government has a Construction Restart Plan to support the reopening of the construction sector in Melbourne, Mitchell Shire, City of Latrobe, Moorabool Shire and Greater Shepparton. Visit this page for information on new construction industry obligations such as COVID Marshals, vaccination and crib rooms.
The 11 Local Government Areas in South East Queensland will continue following stage 3 restrictions until 4.00pm AEST 24 September 2021.
Trade work can continue but it is advised to view the current business restrictions information to ensure you are complying with set rules and regulations.
South Australia is currently under Level 1 restrictions with some additional restrictions.
Trade business can operate at the current level of restrictions but must comply with guidelines and rules set on the the SA Government’s Business Restrictions and Closures 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
The ACT will be in lockdown until 11:59pm Friday 15 October 2021.
Canberra construction workers are reminded that all non-essential construction work is not allowed during lockdown.During lockdown only essential urgent repair and maintenance services, for example plumbing, electrical and heating repair, can occur.
All other construction projects, including residential developments, home renovations and non-urgent home maintenance services, such as gardening or painting, are expected to stop.
The NT has certain restrictions in place while not in lockdown. Check out their Business and Work hub for all the latest information and updates.
COVID Safe Principles For Construction
1. Ensure physical distancing (1.5 metres)
Where possible, work from home. Ensure your administration staff has access to the hardware (i.e. laptops, internet, phone) and software (i.e. their login details) so they can continue working efficiently from home.
For onsite workers, the 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.