A reminder again how quickly things can develop during this pandemic. To keep our members informed, SIV has provided a summary of state and Federal support available to industry with links to key information. Please appreciate that this is a rapidly evolving situation so the information contained is based on what is current and will be updated as more information is released.
The Victorian Government has announced that the City of Ballarat will tonight enter a seven day lock down to slow the spread of COVID-19. The decision was made on the advice of the Chief Health Officer, following multiple wastewater detections, multiple exposure sites and four positive cases. From 11.59pm tonight, 15 September, the City of Ballarat will have the same restrictions as metropolitan Melbourne, but without a curfew. This will last for seven days, until 11.59pm on Wednesday, 22 September. Greater Shepperton area will ease its restrictions.
For metropolitan Melbourne almost all of the current restrictions will remain in place until 70 percent of Victorians have had at least one dose of vaccine. There is one change, with single parents now able to access childcare regardless of whether they are an authorised worker.
There are still only five reasons to leave home: shopping for food and supplies, authorised work and study, care and caregiving, exercise, and getting vaccinated. Other restrictions – including wearing face masks – will stay the same.
Next steps When 70 per cent and 80 per cent of Victorians have received both doses, more restrictions will be eased at set interval as part of the National Plan to transition Australia's National COVID-19 Response.
More Mental Health Support On top of the $225 million the Government has already provided to support Victorian's mental health throughout the pandemic, a further investment of $22 million will deliver fast tracked, tailored care to those who need it, reducing the burden on emergency departments. For more information click here
Seafood Industry - Open with COVIDSafe requirements Overnight, the Workplace (Additional Industry Obligations) Directions (No 38) were published (here) . Below are the main changes that impact abattoirs, meat processing facilities, poultry processing facilities, and seafood processing facilities.
Peak Workforce Capacity Of most interest will be the method to calculate workforce capacity. From clause 5: (3) The daily peak workforce capacity is the daily average of the highest number of workers at the Work Premises each day calculated over the period of: (a) August 2021; or (b) any three consecutive months in the last 12 months. (4) The daily total workforce capacity is the daily average of the total number of workers at the Work Premises each day over the period of: (a) August 2021; or (b) any three consecutive months in the last 12 months. Example 1: On one day, a distribution business had workers working over two shifts: (a) 6:00am to 2:00pm: 120 workers (b) 12:00pm to 8:00pm: 150 workers During the crossover of the two shifts, the business had 270 workers working at the Work Premises at any one time – this is the daily peak workforce capacity on this day. Over the two shifts, the Work Premises had 270 workers in total – this is the daily workforce capacity on this day. The same calculation is undertaken for each day of either August 2021 or any continuous three month (13 week) consecutive period in the last 12 months. These figures are then averaged over the period to calculate the daily peak workforce capacity and the daily total workforce capacity over the period. Example 2 On one day, a meat processing business had people on the Work Premises, including employees, contractors and labour hire, working over three shifts with no cross-over of workers: (a) 4:00 am to 10:00 am: 120 workers (b) 10:30 am to 4:30 pm: 100 workers (c) 5:00 pm to 11:00 pm: 80 workers The daily peak workforce capacity on this day is 120 workers. Over the three shifts, the business had 300 workers working in total – this is the daily total workforce capacity on this day.
Workforce Reductions Section 7 confirms the required workforce reductions and the animal welfare exemption: (3C) From 11:59pm on 23 August 2021, an employer may only operate a facility that is a seafood processing facility in Metropolitan Melbourne if it reduces the daily peak workforce capacity and the daily total workforce capacity by 20 percent or to 40 workers, whichever is higher. (3D) The Chief Veterinary Officer may grant an exemption in writing to the requirements of subclause (3C). An exemption may only be granted where there are unavoidable animal welfare impacts that arise from workforce reductions.
Cash support for Victorian Businesses The Commonwealth and Victorian Governments have announced a jointly-funded support package to provide a critical four-week boost to small and medium-sized Victorian businesses most impacted by current public health restrictions. The joint package of up to $2.34 billion will deliver certainty to around 175,000 Victorian businesses as the state bands together to restrict the spread of infection while the drive to vaccinate 70 per cent, then 80 per cent, of the population accelerates. The business support payments confirmed today, Saturday 4 September, cover a four-week period ending on Thursday 30 September. The vast majority of payments will be deposited automatically into businesses’ bank accounts, while a new tiered payments system for the Business Costs Assistance Program will allow for higher payments to businesses with more workers.
Small Business COVID Hardship Fund The Small Business COVID Hardship Fund will receive a $448 million boost, increasing the total grant amount available to small and medium-sized businesses from $14,000 to $20,000 in recognition of the impact of the lockdown extension. The Fund now stands at $700 million, providing support for up to 35,000 businesses.
Some 16,000 businesses that have already received a Small Business COVID Hardship Fund grant will receive an automatic top-up payment of $6,000.
This program supports businesses that have been ineligible for Victorian Government business support programs since May but have experienced a reduction in revenue of at least 70 per cent. This includes businesses that are legally allowed to operate but are restricted in their ability to generate revenue.
Business Costs Assistance Program Funding of up to $1.6 billion will support about 132,000 businesses across multiple sectors who were recipients of the Business Costs Assistance Program Round Two or July Extension.
Businesses throughout Victoria will receive automatic payments to cover ongoing costs such as wages, rent, utilities and insurance:
$2,800 a week for businesses with an annual payroll below $650,000
$5,600 a week for businesses with an annual payroll of $650,000 to $3 million
$8,400 for businesses with an annual payroll of $3 million to $10 million.
Businesses will remain eligible while they are unable to operate due to public health restrictions.
Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund 2021 Up to $289 million funding will support more than 9,300 premises impacted by lockdown. Licensed hospitality businesses that have previously received grants under the Licensed Hospitality Venue Fund 2021 or July Extension programs will receive automatic payments based on premises capacity:
$5,000 for a capacity of up to 99 patrons or where patron capacity is not specified
$10,000 for a capacity of 100 to 499 patrons
$20,000 for a capacity of 500 or more.
Hospitality businesses will remain eligible while they are unable to operate due to public health restrictions.
COVID-19 Disaster Payments Eligible workers who lose hours due to the lockdown will be able to access the Commonwealth’s COVID-19 Disaster Payment, as will sole-trader businesses who lose work and do not qualify for Victorian Government support programs.
The payment is set at $450 for people who have lost 8-20 hours work over seven days and $750 for people who have lost 20 hours or more. People who receive certain Commonwealth income support are eligible to receive a $200 payment.
Book your Vaccination Appointment Getting vaccinated has never been more important.
All Victorians are encouraged to book their vaccination appointment by visitingportal.cvms.vic.gov.auor by phoning the Coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398. Stay COVIDSafe Wear your mask correctly – covering your mouth and nose Get tested immediately if you are ill When open, make sure everyone checks in everywhere, every time Update your COVIDSafe Plan Support your workers to get vaccinated when they’re eligible.