Construction industry grapples with COVID-19 shutdown orders

Construction work has been ordered to stop in Greater Sydney, the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, Wollongong, Shellharbour, and the state of South Australia amidst lockdowns from COVID-19 outbreaks.

The shutdown orders across Greater Sydney are in effect until 11.59pm on Friday 30 July, while South Australia is under Level 5 restrictions until further notice.

These changes follow health advice to further limit the spread of the COVID-19 Delta strain.

The NSW Government has reported that workplaces were the second highest place of transmission after households.

It’s been reported that the industry is reeling with the news that it will not be exempt from lockdown restrictions, with concerns that it will have major economic impacts.

The NSW Government has developed guidance for commercial principles to support parties with closure of construction site negotiations.

Under the current restrictions, the following urgent works only may be undertaken:

  • To ensure the safety or security of the construction site
  • To deal with environmental risks
  • To maintain and ensure the integrity of critical plant, equipment or assets, including partially completed works, that would otherwise deteriorate
  • To receive deliveries of supplies that would otherwise deteriorate
  • To maintain public utilities
  • To ensure the safe operation of existing transport infrastructure
  • By or on behalf of NSW Health in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Because of an emergency

Only workers required to undertake these works are permitted on site.

Construction sites are defined as a place at which work, including related excavation, is being carried out to erect, demolish, extend or alter a building or structure, or at which civil works are being carried out, but not work carried out in relation to a dwelling in which a person is residing.

Work at a residential dwelling, including cleaning or carrying out repairs, maintenance, alterations, additions or other trades, may not take place unless urgently required to ensure the health, safety or security of the place of residence or the members of the household, or because of an emergency.

Worksites where urgent works only are taking place should follow the COVID-19 Guidance developed by Infrastructure NSW in collaboration with government agencies and industry representatives. The key actions include:

Stay away

  • No person with any symptoms is permitted on site
  • No person who has been in contact of a person with COVID is permitted on site until NSW Health advice allows them to leave isolation
  • Residents from the Canterbury-Bankstown, Fairfield and Liverpool local government areas are not permitted to leave their LGA to attend work, unless they are an authorised worker. Workers can be required to provide proof of residential address

Travelling to and arriving on site

  • No carpooling unless members of the same household
  • Do not congregate at arrival points
  • Confirm that each person arriving has no symptoms or had contact with a COVID case
  • Everyone must check in with a QR code using the Service NSW app, or sign in manually if they don’t have a smartphone. Check out when you leave
  • Processes for arrival on site should be done without causing congregation or close contact with a person undertaking checks. Social distancing should apply

Infrastructure NSW has laid out further guidance for commercial principles here.

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