As a result of the announcement made by the Victorian government yesterday, the State of Victoria has entered into a 7 day 'circuit breaker' lockdown which will be in place from 11:59pm on 27 May 2021 until 11:59pm Thursday 3 June 2021. 1
Until 11:59pm on Thursday 3 June 2021, there are only be five reasons for Victorians to leave home, namely:
- Obtaining food, supplies and access to authorised services;
- Exercise (with one other person in your household for up to 2 hours per day);
- Care and Caregiving;
- Authorised work and permitted study; and
- Getting the COVID-19 vaccination. 2
Victorians will not be able to travel beyond 5 kilometres from their primary place of residence except if they are:
- accessing necessary goods and services if they cannot be accessed closer than 5kms from home;
- visiting an intimate partner;
- visiting a person in their "single bubble";
- travelling for authorised work and permitted education;
- working at an interstate location (where permitted by another state); and
- providing care and for compassionate reasons (specific exemptions apply).
Impact on Workplaces
Employers with staff in Victoria need to aware about the requirements and restrictions imposed as a result of this lockdown. A number of businesses/industries will need to close or at least operate in a limited capacity, pursuant to the announced restrictions.
The Victorian government will not be reintroducing the workers permit system during this lockdown. Instead, the government has provided a list of authorised providers, workers and health services that will continue to operate during the 7 day lockdown. A full list of the restrictions (including the list of authorised workers allowed to operate during the lockdown) can be found here.
Due to lack of monetary support that was previously available to eligible employers (by way of JobKeeper payments under the JobKeeper Scheme which ceased on 29 March 2021) 3 various industries are expected to notice a significant impact on their revenue and operations as a result of this lockdown. 4
Employers should be careful in how they implement measures to deal with the impact of this potential downturn in their business, given that the temporary changes to the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth) (available to eligible employers), also came to an end with JobKeeper.
The government's directive for workplaces during this lockdown, currently is that if you can work from home, you must work from home.
The Victorian Government QR Code Service
From Friday 28 May 2021, it will be mandatory for customer-facing industries that require 'checking-in', to use the free Victorian Government QR Code Service, which can be accessed here.
A full list of venues/facilities which are required to use the free Victorian Government QR Code Service for recording keeping can be found here, and includes hospitality (such as cafes/restaurants), real estate inspections/auctions, drive-in cinemas, and amusement parks (amongst others).
Venues must also ensure that in the event a person attending the venue/facility does not have the ability to check in using the QR code, they have alternate recording keeping mechanisms in place (such as a physical paper record).
Businesses that are required under the current rules to keep electronic records, if found to be operating without the QR Code System in place (or are found to be not requiring customers to check in) risk facing a $1,652 on-the-spot fine for non-compliance, and may also be issued with an improvement notice at the same time to ensure the non-compliance is rectified. For businesses that display a continued pattern of non-compliance, a $9,913 fine may be issued. 5
1 Premier of Victoria, Statement From the Acting Premier (27 May 2021) https://www.premier.vic.gov.au/statement-acting-premier-1
2 Coronavirus Victoria, COVIDSafe Settings (28 May 2021) https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/coronavirus-covidsafe-settings
3 Fair Work Ombudsman, JobKeeper scheme – overview (1 May 2020) https://coronavirus.fairwork.gov.au/coronavirus-and-australian-workplace-laws/changes-to-workplace-laws-during-coronavirus/jobkeeper-wage-subsidy-scheme
4 Yahoo Finance, Vic business groups demand lockdown compo (27 May 2021) https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/vic-business-groups-demand-lockdown-051141878.html
5 Victorian Government, Checking in with QR Codes (25 May 2021) https://www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/qr-code-check-in#do-i-need-to-check-in-at-retail-stores