New restrictions, payments announced for Vic workers and businesses

By Shannon Jenkins

Tuesday August 4, 2020

Daniel Andrews (AAP Image/James Ross)

The federal and Victorian governments will provide payments to workers who must quarantine and businesses that cannot operate during Victoria’s six-week lockdown.

The Prime Minister on Monday announced a $1500 “pandemic leave disaster payment” for workers forced to quarantine for 14 days in Victoria who don’t have sick leave and are not already receiving JobKeeper or JobSeeker. They will be able to apply for the payment over the phone on 180-22-66 from Wednesday.

The announcement came after Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews revealed the government had created a Business Support Fund for businesses that “suffer significant losses or need to close as a result of the current restrictions”. Businesses in regional Victoria can apply for a $5000 grant while those in Melbourne and Mitchell Shire can apply for up to $10,000.

He also unveiled three categories of operation for businesses during Stage 4:

  1. To stay open: supermarkets, bottle shops, pharmacies, petrol stations, banks, newsagencies, post offices, bakeries, butcher shops, health businesses, and cafes and restaurants (for takeaway/delivery);
  2. “Scaled back” operation: meat and food production, manufacturing, waste collection and construction (with extra rules depending on project size) will be required to implement COVIDSafe plans and have a reduced workforce;
  3. To close: onsite operations will cease for the next six weeks in industries including retail, some manufacturing and administration. Retail stores can operate for contactless “click and collect” and delivery services, and hardware stores can stay open or tradespeople only.

The workplaces that have been permitted to operate will be required to do so with extra rules such as PPE, staggered shifts, staggered breaks, health declarations and “more support for sick workers to ensure they stay home”, Andrews said.

He noted the changes would be enacted in consultation with industry and with unions, while the Industry Coordination Centre within the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions would handle cases for businesses and industries that “fall into grey areas” when it comes to their operation.

“These changes, in addition to the previous restrictions including working from home requirements, will mean around 1 million Victorians are no longer moving around the state for work,” Andrews said.

The premier also announced that Melbourne residents would receive a “piece of paper” detailing where they work and their role so police know whether they should be travelling or not.

Since the initial state of disaster announcement over the weekend, the government has clarified that people will not be fined if they are leaving their homes to escape family violence.

On Sunday health minister Greg Hunt announced the federal government would also provide 10 additional Medicare subsidised psychological therapy sessions for people who live in areas that are subject to public health orders and have had their movement restricted, and for people who are required to isolate or quarantine under public health orders.

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