With Victoria’s construction sector now considered a major source of COVID-19 transmission in the state, a compliance blitz will be enforced by the Government to ensure the industry remains open.
According to Victorian Treasurer Tim Pallas, the industry is at a higher risk of spreading the virus, and many workers are not complying with current COVID-19 rules.
“[The] construction industry is young, it is mobile, as a workforce, they often visit multiple sites in any given week, and they return home to all areas of metropolitan Melbourne, particularly I might say in the north and western suburbs of Melbourne,” he said.
"And that represents a higher risk of spread of the virus.”
As such, a four-week blitz will be carried out by the Victorian Industry Enforcement and Engagement Operation in partnership with Workforce and the Victorian Building Authority.
The joint operation will have a ‘zero tolerance’ approach and will apply fines and prohibition notices to fix any serious non-compliance.
According to Pallas, the majority of constructions workers are complying with COVID-19 rules, but the few who aren't are taking the virus home with them to their families and communities.
"The nature of this workforce means that we have to go above and beyond the requirements for normal COVID compliance," Pallas said.
"This is not about special provision and exceptions for the construction industry, it's about recognising that they have an obligation to go that little bit further, given the opportunities that they have as permitted workers to continue to apply their trade.
"This industry needs to take these responsibilities seriously. They need to recognise that the rights and opportunities that they get as permitted workers come with considerable obligations to the community."
Further, to ensure the industry remains operational during the COVID-19 outbreak, construction workers will receive prioritised vaccinations.
The State is opening the doors of four major vaccination centres to walk-ups without a booking every day from today until 26 September.
Thousands of further priority Pfizer appointments will be released to construction workers too, as well as unlimited access to AstraZeneca.
Anyone who works at a site where civil works, building or construction activities take place, including contractors and architects working on site, will be eligible.
Our construction industry is critical to our state, but what is even more important is vaccinating each and every Victorian so we can slow the spread of the virus,” Pallas said.
“The construction sector’s ability to remain open is on a knife’s edge, and to ensure they can keep building, people need to get vaccinated and follow the rules.”
Victoria today reported 473 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases; the highest daily tally since the latest outbreak began.
Updated at 1.47pm AEST on 13 September 2021.
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