Update on COVID-19 directions
6 August 2020
Below is an update on new directions released by the Victorian Government this morning in relation to restricted activity and stay at home rules.
Each of these directions were operational as of 11:59pm on 5 August 2020, and will expire on 11:59pm on 16 August 2020. This expiry date correlates with the next expected extension of the State of Emergency declaration.
The purpose of this document is to provide a brief overview of some of the changes that have been made today in the Restricted Activity Directions and Stay At Home Directions for both metropolitan Melbourne and Regional Victoria.
Note, it is likely that the Government replace some of these directions prior to 16 August 2020.
It is also likely that over coming days the Government will continue to refine its website ‘list of permitted work premises’ and how these are practically intended to operate.
The information provided by the Government to date is poorly written, badly organised, and leaves many questions unanswered for different industries and workplaces. A continued need for further clarifications will be an ongoing project for government for some days to come.
Metro Melbourne – Stage 4 – Restricted Activity directions
The new Stage 4 Restricted Activity direction have now organized businesses into two categories ‘Permitted Work Premises’ and ‘Closed Work Premises’.
The previous approach of specifically listing the types of premises that are required to close appears to have been abandoned in metropolitan Melbourne restricted activity directions.
Permitted Work Premises
‘A person who owns, controls or operates a Permitted Work Premises in the Restricted Area may operate that premises during the restricted activity period to the extent permitted by the Directions currently in force.’
The specific list of ‘permitted work premises’ now exists outside the signed orders. It means anything that appears under the below link.
Despite the above, a person who owns, controls or operates a Permitted Work Premises in the Restricted Area may operate that premises:
(a) for the purpose of essential maintenance; or
(b) by permitting employees to work from the place where they ordinarily reside; or
(c) as required or authorised by law; or
(d) in an emergency; or
(e) as otherwise permitted by the Directions currently in force.
It is noted that if a Work Premises includes a number of functions and only part of the functions undertaken at the premises are a Permitted Work Premises, only those permitted functions may operate.
If there is any inconsistency between the general obligations and the specific obligations set out in the Directions currently in force, the specific obligations will prevail.
Permitted work premises must also comply with two new directions:
New Direction 1
‘Permitted Worker Permit Scheme and Access to Onsite Childcare/Kindergarten Permit Scheme Directions’
These directions are related to the requirements and obligations of the Permitted Worker Scheme.
New Direction 2
These directions provide requirements on preventative measures in the workplace, and responding to a suspected/confirmed COVID case in a work premises.
Signage, cleaning, record requirements that previously appeared within these Restricted Activity Directions now appear within these new directions.
The Workplace Directions also list a requirement that an employer
‘must not require or permit a worker to perform work at more than one Work Premises of the employer’
unless it is not practicable. For example, healthcare and social care workers, and tradespeople performing essential repairs.
The Workplace Directions also require that employers with five or more workers working at a Work Premises must have a ‘COVID Safe Plan’. Employers are directed to this website for guidance on developing a COVID safe plan – https://www.business.vic.gov.au/disputes-disasters-and-succession-planning/covid-safe-business/creating-a-covid-safe-workplace#yourcovidsafeplan.
There is some ‘sector guidance’ on the COVID safe plan webpages, but it is frequently changing and lacks detail.
Closed Work Premises
‘A person who owns, controls or operates a Closed Work Premises in the Restricted Area must not permit persons to attend that premises during the restricted activity period.’
There is NO SPECIFIC LIST of Closed Work Premises.
Closed Work Premises simply means “a Work Premises that is not a Permitted Work Premises”. Practically this means anything that is not on the Permitted Work Premises list is closed.
A person who owns, controls or operates a Closed Work Premises may attended the premises in the following circumstances:
(a) for the purpose of essential maintenance; or
(b) to ensure that the premises is closed safely for the duration of the restricted activity period; or
(c) by permitting employees to work from the place where they ordinarily reside to operate the premises; or
(d) as required or authorised by law; or
(e) in an emergency; or
(f) as otherwise permitted by these Directions.
There are exceptions in these directions that allow certain permitted operations of professional sport, educational facilities, and childcare facilities.
Metro Melbourne – Stage 4 – Stay At Home Directions
There have been some additional changes to the Stay At Home directions for Metropolitan Melbourne including:
- Changes that allow workers with permits to take their child a school, childcare service, or another person’s premises for the purpose of child-minding assistance (provided it is an existing in-home child-minding assistance arrangement – no new arrangements are permitted).
- Changes to allow a person to leave their premises for the purpose or driving a person with whom they ordinarily reside where it is not otherwise reasonable practicable for that person to leave their premises for a purpose permitted under, and provided they comply with, these directions. This action is also permitted during curfew.
- A person may now only visit a secondary residence for ‘emergency maintenance’. This was previously ‘necessary maintenance’.
- Changes that prevent a person from visiting a cemetery or other memorial for a deceased person to pay respects to a deceased person, if it involves travelling further than 5km from the premises where the person ordinarily resides.
- A new reason to leave home for compassionate reasons if a person has a pet at their premises and it is necessary to take the pet outdoors to urinate or defecate, if it is not reasonably practicable for the pet to do so at the person’s premises. Changes also allow a person to leave their premises during curfew for a ‘pet toilet break’.
- Clarification that court-ordered child protection visits are currently suspended within Metro Melbourne.
- Clarification that if at the start of the stay at home period a person has a signed contract for a residential property which is scheduled to settled during the stay at home period, dealing with that residential property may continue.
Similarly if a person is a residential tenant whose lease is expiring during the stay at home period, dealing with residential property may continue.
- Clarification that persons entering a premises for care or other compassionate reasons should be ‘no more than the minimum necessary to do so’.
- Clarification that persons entering a premises for work or education purposes should only do so ‘where the work will take place and such work is urgent and essential’.
Examples provides include a tradeperson for the purpose of carrying out urgent and essential repairs, a disability support worker, a vet, or a person for end of life faith reasons.
- Requirements for permitted weddings in Metro Melbourne being that one or both of the two persons being married are:
- at the end of life; or
- will be deported from Australia unless the marriage takes place.
Regional Victoria – Stage 3 – Restricted Activity Directions
The Stage 3 Restricted Activity Directions for Regional Victoria are organised in a similar way to previous version.
Restricted Activity Directions for Regional Victoria are broadly similar to Stage 3 restrictions that have been previously in place across Victoria, and most recently in metropolitan Melbourne.
Signage, cleaning, record requirements that previously appeared within these directions now appear within the new Workplace Directions.
Regional Victoria – Stage 3 – Stay At Home Directions
With recommencement of Stage 3 restrictions in Regional Victoria, there has been a move back to ‘Stay at Home Directions’.
The ‘Stay Safe Directions’ directions that were previously in operation in Regional Victoria have been revoked.
Stay At Home directions for Regional Victoria are broadly similar to Stage 3 Stay At Home restrictions that have been previously in place across Victoria, and most recently in metropolitan Melbourne.
These directions implement the requirement that a person who ordinarily resides in Regional Victoria during the stay at home period must not leave the premises where the person ordinarily resides, other than for one or more of the reasons specified in:
(a) Necessary goods or services
(b) Care or other compassionate reasons
(c) Work or education
(d) Exercise or outdoor recreation
(e) Other specified reasons
If a person has more than one ordinary place of residence, the person must choose one of these residences to be their principal place of residence for the duration of the stay at home period.
A person may only visit any other ordinary place of residence for the purposes of work or education, to meet obligations in relation to shared parenting arrangements or family contact arrangements, for emergency maintenance, for emergency purposes, or as otherwise required or authorised by law.
It also includes requirements related to face covering.