By Amanda Curatore
On Sunday 27 September 2020, Victoria’s Premier Daniel Andrews, announced the easing of restrictions under the existing ‘road map’. This is a positive step for the state as COVID-19 cases are slowly reducing. So, what does this mean for employers and employees in Victoria? Let’s find out…
Changes to the ‘road map’
Under the road map announced on 6 September 2020, the movement to the next stage was based on specific dates and an average of case numbers over the previous 14 days. Now, however, the roadmap has been amended, and Melbourne will move to the next steps based on reaching ‘trigger points’. At these trigger points, the public health team will review changes to restrictions based on case numbers, testing numbers and other factors to determine whether it is safe to move to the next step.
What do you need to know?
Effective from 11:59 PM on 27 September 2020, Metropolitan Melbourne moved into the second step towards a COVID Normal. The most significant departure from the initial road map was the removal of the 9 PM to 5 AM curfew. However, several restrictions remain in place.
Residents will still have to remain within five kilometres of their homes and will only be allowed to leave home for the permitted four reasons: shopping for essentials, caregiving, exercise or permitted work/ education. There are, however, some changes to these restrictions:
Shopping for essentials
Shopping for essential items can be done at the supermarket, pharmacy, petrol, post office, food stores, bottle shop or liquor store, or pet store, and the five-kilometre rule still applies. However, more than one person from a household may now go shopping together. Non-essential retail remains limited to click and collect only.
Caregiving, compassionate reasons or seeking medical advice remains the same.
Exercise and recreation
Individuals are permitted to leave home to exercise but must not travel more than five kilometres from where they live to exercise. A permitted worker can exercise within five kilometres of their workplace, provided they are carrying their permitted worker permit.
Up to five people from a maximum of two households can meet outdoors for exercise and recreation. Social distancing must be maintained. The five-kilometre rule applies. Also, this must be in a public outdoor space and does not include people’s backyards or outdoor spaces connected to a home.
Personal trainers can exercise outdoors with a maximum of two clients, but gyms remain closed.
Permitted work and education
Individuals are allowed to leave their homes for permitted work, and education. This includes taking children to school, childcare or outside school hours care service in which they are enrolled.
Childcare will re-open from 28 September 2020, meaning essential worker childcare worker permits are no longer required. Standalone (sessional) kindergarten programs from Monday 5 October 2020 in line with Term 4.
There will be a phased re-introduction of face-to-face learning in schools. Primary school students, students in years 10-12 who are undertaking VCE/ VCAL and special schools will return in Term 4, from 12 October 2020. All other high school students will continue with remote and flexible learning.
Religious gatherings of up to five people plus a faith leader will now be permitted in an outdoor location. The five-kilometre rule still applies, and the gathering must not exceed two hours.
Private inspections for residential real estate are now permitted with one client but must be limited to 15 people. Residents living in the home must not be there for the inspection.
Other industries which may now begin to re-open (subject to industry-specific guidelines) include animal grooming, manufacturing, wholesale trade, elective surgery and dentistry. Businesses must ensure they have a COVID Safe-Plan in place and should seek specific advice from Business Victoria of the Department of Health and Human Services in relation to re-opening.
Requirements to wear a face mask in public remain in place, however, a plastic face shield or bandanna is no longer suitable. The mask must be fitted and cover the mouth and nose.
For Melbourne to move to Step 3, it must achieve the trigger point of fewer than five daily cases over 14 days, and fewer than five mystery cases over 14 days. The Victorian Government has stated that this may occur on 19 October 2020.
If your business has a coronavirus-related query, please contact the HR Assured team.
Amanda Curatore is a qualified Senior Workplace Relations Consultant at FCB Group and HR Assured. Amanda is highly experienced in providing workplace relations advice and assistance to clients in a wide range of matters including employment contracts, modern award interpretation, managing performance, bullying and harassment, terminations and managing risk.