Over the weekend, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews announced several changes to his roadmap to reopening the state, including the removal of the curfew, the ability of sole traders to operate garden maintenance and related services, and improvements in supermarket capacity and manufacturing.
An extra 127,000 workers are expected to have returned to various industries with COVIDSafe plans from Monday, with worker reduction scrapped for warehousing, postal and distribution centres, supermarket and food distribution.
Wholesale businesses not previously allowed have now opened at 67 per cent of normal daily worker level, while abattoirs, seafood and meat processing plants have also increased, in line with the levels deemed safe.
Dan Andrews has, however, announced additional obligations for employers.
“Recognising the increased risk in some of these environments, there’ll be additional obligations for employers, including regular surveillance testing of staff, nightly deep cleaning, separating workers into consistent bubbles, and providing regular training for their workers,” the Premier said on Sunday.
He also revealed that the move to the third and last steps will no longer be defined by dates in the calendar, instead the “trigger point” will be based solely on reaching case number targets. According to the Premier, the third step will commence when the state reaches an average daily case rate of less than five cases over a two-week period.
“That means the sooner we hit those targets, the sooner we can consider our next steps,” the Premier said.
What’s allowed under Melbourne’s new stage 2
Hospitality and accommodation: No change.
Real estate: Private property and display home inspections allowed with one agent and one prospective purchaser or tenant. Inspections must have a 15-minute time limit.
Construction: Baseline for large-scale construction up from 25 per cent of total workforce to 85 per cent. Specialist contractors on small-scale sites can visit up to five sites per week, with a maximum of two per day.
Gardening/landscaping: Gardening, landscaping and garden maintenance businesses that have an ABN added to permitted worker list. Conditions require they can safely work alone, outside and have no contact with customers.
Meat and seafood processing: In metropolitan Melbourne, workforce capacity goes up to 80 per cent capacity for meat processing, 90 per cent for poultry processing and 80 per cent for seafood processing. In regional Victoria, workforce capacity will increase to 90 per cent for meat, poultry and seafood processing.
Warehousing: The worker reduction will no longer apply to warehousing.
Supermarket and food distribution: The worker reduction will no longer apply to supermarket and food distribution.
Pet grooming: Pet groomers are allowed to resume contactless services onsite, within a retail outlet.
Childcare: Childcare is now open.
Reactions from government
Commenting on the changes announced, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg and Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed the news in a joint statement.
“Today’s announcement is a small but further important step in that direction,” the pair said.
However, as has often been the case, the PM and the Treasurer compared Victoria’s progress to that in NSW, expressing their concern for the mental health of Melbourne residents.
“We note that at similar case levels, NSW was fundamentally open while remaining COVIDSafe due to a world-class contact tracing facility,” they said.
“As many epidemiologists have encouraged, we would support Victoria in reviewing the trigger of five and zero cases with regard to the third and last steps.
“As it stands, this lockdown is already longer than that faced by residents in many cities around the world. We remain deeply concerned about the mental health impacts of a prolonged lockdown on Melbourne residents.”