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Lockdown: closures, permits and penalties

Victorians are required to work from home, except where this is not practicable.
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Lockdown: closures, permits and penalties

Lockdown: closures, permits and penalties

6 August 2020

All workplaces in metropolitan Melbourne were forced to close from 11.59pm last night unless the workplace is part of a permitted industry.

The harsh new Stage 4 lockdown measures to stop the spread of COVID-19 are in place until September 13. They will impact about one million workers.

All Victorians are required to work from home, except where this is not practicable. Sole operators can continue to operate, if they do not have contact with the public, or with people other than those persons living in their primary household.

COVID Safe plan

All open businesses and services will have until 11:59pm Friday 7 August to enact a COVIDSafe plan. This plan must focus on safety, prevention and response in the event that coronavirus is linked to the workplace.

Supermarkets, pharmacies and other retail

The following retail services (plus everyone involved in the frontline response) will continue to operate:
  • supermarkets
  • grocery stores
  • bottle shops
  • pharmacies
  • petrol stations
  • banks
  • newsagencies
  • post offices

Retail, manufacturing and administration

Industries where onsite operations will have to cease for the next six weeks include:
  • retail
  • some manufacturing
  • administration

These businesses need to close by 11:59pm Wednesday 5 August, unless they have specific circumstances that mean they need longer to shut down safely.

Retail stores not listed above will be permitted to operate contactless ‘click and collect’ and delivery services with strict safety protocols in place.

Hardware stores can remain open onsite, but for tradespeople only.

Industries permitted to operate

In industries that can’t close, but where we’ve seen a number of cases or emerging new risks, there will be big changes to make these workplaces safer – for workers and for their families.

This includes mandated reductions to the number of workers onsite.

The meat industry workforce will be scaled back to two-thirds. This will apply to abattoirs in Melbourne and across the state.

Warehousing and distribution centres in Melbourne will be limited to no more than two-thirds the normal workforce allowed onsite at any one time.

Our construction sector will also move to pilot-light levels. For major construction sites, that means the absolute minimum required for safety – but no more than 25% of the normal workforce onsite. Small-scale construction will be limited to a maximum of five people onsite.

Workplaces that are continuing to operate will also have additional requirements including extra PPE, staggering shifts, staggering breaks, health declarations and more support for sick workers to ensure they stay home.

This table outlines examples of workplaces that are closed for on-site work, open for on-site work with a COVID Safe Plan, and where there are restricted operations or industry specific obligations. This information is subject to the directions of Victoria’s chief health officer.

Worker permits

Employees working in permitted industries who cannot work from home will be required to have a new ‘Worker Permit’ when travelling to and from work.

Employers will be required to issue signed permits to their employees to allow them to attend a workplace.

Penalties of up to $19,826 (for individuals) and $99,132 (for businesses) will apply to employers who issue worker permits to employees who do not meet the requirements of the worker permit scheme or who otherwise breach the scheme requirements.

There will also be on-the-spot fines of up to $1652 (for individuals) and up to $9913 (for businesses) for anyone who breaches the scheme requirements. This includes employers, and employees who do not carry their worker permit when travelling to and from work.

To apply for a permit visit the Department of Justice and Community Safety website.

Enforcement of business and workplace restrictions

These changes will be enforceable. And the onus will be on employers 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.

The dedicated Industry Coordination Centre in the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions will consider the case of businesses and industries that fall into grey areas.

Support for affected businesses

For those businesses that suffer significant losses or need to close as a result of the current restrictions, support will be provided through the expanded Business Support Fund.

Businesses in regional Victoria can apply for a $5000 grant.

Businesses in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire can apply for up to $10,000 in recognition of spending longer under restrictions.

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