Tools down for Victorian builders during third COVID lockdown

by | Feb 15, 2021

Victorian builders have put down their tools for the first time ever, due to Victoria’s third COVID lockdown which was enforced from midnight, Friday February 12.

Building and construction workers who walked off sites this weekend are not expected to return to work until Thursday, February 18 at the earliest.

Under Melbourne’s Stage Four restrictions August last year, the construction industry was given clearance to operate in a pilot-light phase, while building homes were cleared to continue during the nationwide lockdown in March.

Due to the short timeline of the latest restrictions and the greater risk of the UK variant of COVID, builders have agreed to stand down with the rest of the state, according to a recent report.

For now, only those working on essential infrastructure and essential services sites will be allowed to continue, with emergency repairs at home also permitted.

Master Builders Victoria Chief Executive Officer, Rebecca Casson said the organisation was currently assisting members with issues caused by the snap lockdown.

“We understand the reasons for the five-day lockdown, but of course we are incredibly disappointed that our industry will need to stop completely for the first time. The best everyone can do right now is to follow the Chief Health Officer’s directions so that our sector is best placed to be ready to go back to worksites after this five-day lockdown,” Ms Casson said in the report.

Restrictions were heavier “than we had at the peak of the pandemic” and would have “significant and far reaching” human and financial costs, according to Urban Development Institute of Australia Victorian Acting Chief Executive, Angela Gaedke.

“If the lockdown is extended, we expect this level of restriction would ease for our industry based on the successful compliance and operations demonstrated by both employees and employers throughout 2020,” Ms Gaedke said in the report.