The Victorian government will revisit construction site restrictions ahead of the release of the state's “roadmap to Covid-normal” on Sunday.
Workforce bubbles to limit staff interaction and a ban on enclosed meetings and lunchrooms will be added to restrictions already in place.
The government could in turn increase the number of workers allowed on construction sites to “practically, safely and steadily” reopen the state, industry-by-industry.
Changes to worksite restrictions were originally expected to start on 18 September, the end of a six-week reform program which saw the number of workers on-site drastically reduced on small and large-scale projects.
Ahead of this weekend’s release, the state government will commence intensive discussions with industry, unions and community organisations to inform the final development of the “roadmap”.
The lockdown lull in activity has reverberated through the Victorian property market, which saw only 167 homes taken to auction with a clearance rate of 49.6 per cent, down from 768 properties at a clearance rate of 74.4 per cent last year, according to Corelogic’s weekend market summary.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the government wants to provide certainty and clarity to communities and businesses alike.
“We know every Victorian wants certainty about the future—for them, for their family and for their work. By the end of the week, we will lay out a plan to re-open our state,” he said.
“Workplaces will need to look very different as we find our ‘Covid normal’. By working with business we’ll make sure that can happen practically and safely.”
Tim Piper, the Victorian head of employer association Australian Industry Group, said the government should adopt a “balance of risk” approach, and while taking health advice, give fuller consideration to other implications of lockdowns.
“The risk-oriented approach should mean the removal of blanket Covid restrictions,” Piper said.
“Where they are necessary, restrictions should be narrowly sector-based, not whole-of-industry-based, and apply to businesses where there is a high risk of transmission.
“Industries that can operate safely and fully across Australia and that did so during most of this crisis, including manufacturing, construction and the many industries that have transitioned to working from home, should simply need to comply with Covid-safe plans without generic restrictions on numbers on site or in warehouses.”
Piper said businesses need predictability to build confidence and cannot “get turned on and off like a tap”.
The industry group suggests that plans to attract investment, support apprentices and encourage entrepreneurship should be included in the government’s roadmap.
The Victorian government also recently announced plans to spend $31.7 million relocating people at the greatest risk from Covid-19 to private rental properties.