Construction restrictions to lift in NSW while VIC projects remain shut

The New South Wales construction industry will return to 100 per cent capacity in just under a week, while construction and infrastructure projects in Victoria remain shut.

From Monday, September 27 the rule limiting Sydney construction sites to 50 per cent capacity if they have any unvaccinated workers will be removed.

According to the NSW state government, all constructions sites will be able to have one person per four square metres even if unvaccinated workers are present.

However, workers from the 12 Sydney local government areas (LGAs) of concern will still only be allowed to leave their area for work if they are vaccinated.

Anyone from the LGAs of concern — Bayside, Blacktown, Burwood, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Liverpool, Parramatta, Strathfield and some suburbs of Penrith — must also continue to register to work outside of their area.

The Infrastructure Partnership Australia welcomed the announcement, with CEO Adrian Dwyer applauding the NSW Government for working closely with industry partners to fully reopen the sector.

“The NSW Government has listened to the concerns of industry and made the right decision to ensure the state can get back on the tools and continue contributing to our recovery,” Mr Dwyer said.

“Construction workers are providing a vital economic service to the people of NSW and are ready to get fully back to work.”

The news comes as construction projects remain shut in Melbourne and other Local Government Areas currently in lockdown in Victoria to help the state government control the spread of the virus.

The two-week shutdown came into effect from 11.59pm Monday 20 September, with the Victorian Government citing concerns about “case numbers, transmission risk and reduced compliance” as factors which contributed to the shutdown decision.

While it was initially announced that critical infrastructure projects like hospitals and level crossing removal projects would remain operating, the Level Crossing Removal Project website yesterday announced a temporary halt on all its projects.

The decision would lead to delays in delivery of projects, the authority said, with changes to construction schedules expected.

Residents who are currently relocated due to level crossing removal works have been told they can return home during this two-week pause or stay in their temporary accommodation.

Construction workers in Victoria have been protesting outside the state’s Construction, Forestry, Maritime, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU) headquarters in Melbourne since Monday.

They have been protesting against the Victorian government’s vaccine mandate, which requires all construction workers to have at least received their first dose of the vaccine by 11.59pm on 23 September.

In a statement yesterday, the Infrastructure Partnerships Australia said it would work closely with the government to ensure construction would resume soon safely.

“The infrastructure sector respects and understands the Victorian Government’s decision to shut construction down for two-weeks to minimise transmission risk and improve compliance,” said Infrastructure Partnerships Australia Chief Executive, Adrian Dwyer.

“The industry has been highly responsive to the evolving health advice and has shown through previous lockdowns that it is capable of adapting to reduce transmission of this highly-infectious Delta strain.”

The chief of the infrastructure think tank, however, warned of the economic losses if lockdown was extended.

“Pre-lockdown, the Victorian Government was averaging a burn-rate of $1.9 billion a month on infrastructure construction spend. Pausing that investment, even for two-week period, is going to have a significant impact on the construction sector workforce and the Victorian economy.”

Mr Dwyer also called on the Victorian Government to ensure adequate relief is available to its delivery partners to absorb the financial shock .

“It is critical through this period that the Government maintains the sector’s solvency, stability, and confidence and continues to keep an open line of dialogue with industry as it considers ways to reopen construction,” said Mr Dwyer.

“In the first instance, the Victorian Government needs to ensure adequate relief is available to its delivery partners to absorb the financial shock of this decision and ensure we don’t see insolvencies emerge down the supply chain.”

For construction workers in Victoria, a priority vaccination blitz is continuing until Sunday 26 September, including walk-up appointments (without a booking) available at key sites. For more information about priority vaccine access, visit https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/vaccine.

A COVID-19 disaster payment is available to help workers unable to earn income due to public health orders, with more info available at https://www.servicesaustralia.gov.au/individuals/services/centrelink/covid-19-disaster-payment.


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