All workers on Victoria's authorised worker list will be required to have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine by 15 October if they wish to continue working on-site, with a second dose necessary by 26 November.
Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews made this announcement today for workers in both Melbourne and regional Victoria, after the state recorded 1,143 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases and three deaths from the virus.
"Yesterday's case numbers [1,438] I think took a lot of people by surprise. It's probably fair to say that many people would have been quite concerned, scared even, to see a number as high as that," the Premier said.
"Today obviously is less than that, and we're pleased, although we shouldn't underestimate the challenge that 1,143 COVID patients present for whether it be our hospitals in the ultimate sense, contact tracers, all the other support services, and of course the challenge that they'll face having to isolate away."
The Premier emphasised the new vaccination requirements were not about stopping people from going to work, but making sure the state can open up safely.
"These steps are not taken lightly, but they are critically important," Andrews said.
"The good news is that many, many of those around 1 million to 1.25 million authorised workers will already have had a first dose; a bunch of them will have had two doses - this is about making sure that we go that extra mile to protect the roadmap to opening.
"We know that vaccination is our way through this. Vaccination is the most effective weapon against getting infected, and then if you do happen to get infected...it is the most effective tool against becoming really, really sick."
To ensure authorised workers can receive their vaccine in time, the state government is also expanding its GP and pharmacy grant program to priority local government areas (LGAs) in regional Victoria and doubling the number of grants available for the existing LGAs.
This will provide more of Victoria's primary care network with $4,000 and $10,000 grants.
"We've been well oversubscribed, and we're going to fund in the first instance all of those who have applied, so it's around another 90 to 100 GP surgeries and pharmacy businesses that will receive those grants that will allow them to employ more staff to operate longer hours, to perhaps rent some space where their clinic or their pharmacy business is not quite big enough to be able to run essentially a mini-vax hub," Premier Andrews said.
"I don't know [if] there's any other state doing this. We're very pleased to partner with both the AMA (Australian Medical Association), the College of General Practice, individual GPs, the Pharmacy Guild and of course pharmacists who are doing a fantastic job.
"These are simple, common-sense partnerships that will mean more jabs in more arms."
Victoria will also have a walk-up Moderna blitz from 4 October to 10 October at the following sites:
- Melton Vaccination Hub (Bunnings)
- Sunshine Vaccination Hub
- Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre
- Royal Exhibition Building
- Sandown Racecourse Vaccination Centre
- Frankston Community Vaccination Hub
- Plenty Ranges Arts and Convention Centre
- Dandenong Palm Plaza
- Former Ford Factor Campbellfield
- La Trobe University site in Bundoora
- St Francis Xavier College Officer Campus
"If you’ve been putting it off or waiting to get vaccinated, don’t wait any longer. The best vaccine is the vaccine you can get today and we all need to do our bit to protect the community and get back to the things we love," added Minister for Health, Martin Foley.
COVIDSafe reopening plan announced for Victorian construction
The Victorian Government has also announced an easing of restrictions for the construction industry from 11.59pm on Monday, 4 October, following close collaboration between the government, industry and unions.
In order to work on-site, all workers will need to continue to carry an Authorised Worker Permit and have had at least one vaccine dose. Every construction site in Victoria must also have a designated fully trained COVID Marshal to ensure compliance with the Chief Health Officer‘s directions.
Prior to reopening, operators will be required to attest that they have implemented the CHO directions and every site will need to have an up to date vaccination register available for compliance checks at all times.
In order to make this process as easy as possible, an online portal will soon be available on the Service Victoria website so these documents are accessible for both the operator and compliance teams.
Crib facilities may be used for the consumption of food and drink with strict density requirements and additional ventilation.
Up to five workers and a supervisor will be able to work on-site for small scale construction projects, and large scale sites can have up to 25 per cent of workers on-site. If crib rooms meet best practice and the entire workforce is fully vaccinated, large scale construction sites can have up to 50 per cent of workers on-site.
Projects on the State Critical Infrastructure list will operate at 100 per cent as long as crib rooms follow best practice guidelines.
Subject to continued high levels of compliance by the industry, workforce caps will progressively increase. At our 70 per cent double dose milestone, large scale construction can return to 100 per cent of its workforce.
Caps will be removed when Victoria reaches its 80 per cent target, and in addition, all on-site workers must be fully vaccinated by 13 November.
Fully vaccinated workers can travel between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria in order to work on-site.
Workers on state critical projects or large scale construction can also travel between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria if they have had a single dose, take an initial test before their first travel, then test twice per week until fully vaccinated.
To allow all sites to remobilise, workers who have had at least one vaccination dose will be able to enter a site prior to 5 October in order to undertake crib facility improvements, participate in a reinduction or receive deliveries.
As part of the re-opening, we expect the construction industry to comply with directions in full.
Teams of Authorised Workers will conduct checks to enforce directions, and penalties will be in place for builders and site operators that do not comply – including site shutdowns for significant or repeated breaches.
"A massive effort has gone into getting the 18,000 strong Big Build workforce vaccinated and project sites ready to return to work in compliance with new construction public health orders," Minister for Transport Infrastructure, Jacinta Allan said.
"This is a challenging time for Victoria, and we are focused on keeping our sites safe – to slow the spread of coronavirus, and continuing to build big for Victoria."
"I want to thank the large number of men and women from the construction sector who have gone and got vaccinated, and if you haven’t booked your jab – get it done today," Minister for Industrial Relations, Tim Pallas, said.
Updated at 12:27pm AEST on 1 October 2021.
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