COVID Update: Government issues final warning to our industry - shape up or shut down

Industry News
September 15, 2021

Originally posted by Master Plumbers Vic on 13/09/2021.

The message from the Victorian Government couldn’t be clearer, we are on notice to do more or close.

Around one-third of COVID cases in Victoria are now linked to construction.  

The average case in construction lives nearly five times as far away from the outbreak location, compared with other cases (e.g. from supermarkets). Together with a young, mobile and under-vaccinated workforce, there is strong concern in government that this will drive unmanageable spread of COVID across the metropolitan area and the state.

While a lot of businesses are doing the right thing, construction industry data shows low levels of mask-wearing, QR code display and use, and a generally lax approach to COVID, especially in the middle and outer suburbs and regional areas.  

Given the plumbing sector’s familiarity with and concern for public health, we hope that our part of the industry is performing better than this.

But at the end of the day it’s one-in, all-in when it comes to further government lockdowns and there is little more your association can do to influence this without your help. Some positive news is that after strong advocacy from industry leaders, and our meeting with the Treasurer and Industry Minister late Sunday night, the Victorian Government today announced two new initiatives to give the industry one last chance to improve:

  1. Priority access to vaccinations. 20,000 Pfizer doses and unlimited Astra Zeneca doses will be available to construction site workers from today until Sunday 26th September.  This will include priority appointments and priority walk-ups as well as additional resources for IncoLink delivery. Apprentices will be included in this. See the media release for more detail.
  2. A four-week blitz on building and construction. More teams of Authorised Officers will be out from today with additional abilities to enforce.  A ZERO TOLERANCE approach will be applied with full powers expected to be in play from infringement notices to prohibitions/shutdowns.

Whilst acknowledging the good work our Industry has led through the Industry Guidelines, without 100 per cent compliance and a fully vaccinated workforce, the risk of the Building and Construction Industry being completely shut down is real. To avoid this we must:

  • Comply, comply, comply! No excuses. Apply the Industry Guidelines all the time.
  • Call out non-compliance when you see it.  If others are not complying it impacts us all.
  • Encourage your staff to be fully vaccinated and take advantage of priority access to vaccinations.  Many sites are already requiring proof of vaccination from subcontractors and government-mandated vaccination may well be introduced like in other sectors, so be prepared.

We urge all members to remain vigilant and keep doing the right thing. It does not matter whether you are a small business or on a major site, if we do not hold ourselves and each other to account, we will ALL lose the privileged position we have worked so hard to maintain.Today's media release from Victorian Government. As always, Master Plumbers is here to support members in understanding and meeting their COVID requirements. Please do not hesitate to reach out if you need advice or check out the COVID hub for the latest information. Stay safe.

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