The Australian Sign & Graphics Association (ASGA) says harsh restrictions outlined by the Victorian Government in its latest Covid-19 roadmap may send some companies out of business permanently.
Print and marketing industry group The Real Media Collective described the roadmap as "extremely cautious" but “flexible.”
| "Businesses in Victoria have been
dealt another blow': ASGA VIC
chairman Mick Harrold
In an update to members posted on its website on Wednesday, ASGA Victorian chair Mick Harrold said:
“Businesses in Victoria have been dealt another blow by the extension of Stage 4 restrictions for an additional two weeks. However, an examination of the rules shows that the harshest restrictions will remain in place for a further four weeks after that.
“Victorian businesses had been hoping that they could reopen in one week. However they have been presented with six additional weeks of harsh restrictions. For some it may be the final straw and they may never return," Harrold said.
"I don't want to pass commentary on whether these rules are appropriate or not. We just want to help you decipher what is possible for your business now and in the future."
Harrold laid out the following update for ASGA members:
The latest roadmap laying out the future restrictions is located below:
For regional businesses, please skip step 1 and proceed to step 3 as you are generally able to operate under a COVID Safe Plan.
First Step analysis
They are now calling these stage 4 restrictions, the First Step. and this will now run up until 27th September. All businesses are required to close unless they are a permitted business. To determine if you are a permitted business, you should consult the web page below.
If you are a permitted business, you will most likely fall into one of the categories below. The following text is taken from the Business Vic web page and is the requirements upon which all permitted business must follow.
In permitted workplaces:
If you can work from home, you must work from home.
If your employees can work from home, you must support them to work from home.
You need a permit to leave home for work and the permit requires your employer to state you cannot work remotely.
Any onsite functions must operate under the minimum obligations to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) including a COVID Safe Plan in place.
For operational guidance and frequently asked questions for businesses and industries visit Business Victoria.
This covers work done inside your own factory and includes
- Manufacturing of fabricated metal product (Covers metal fabricated signs and so on)
- Manufacturing of building supplies to support construction (If you are building signs for the construction industry)
- Printing and support services (All print operations)
- Manufacturing of goods to support critical infrastructure public works (If you are building signs for the government project works like metro tunnel)
This covers on site works. i.e. Installation. You are allowed to perform installation if you are working for a builder and they are allowed to operate under their COVID Safe Plan. The builder will have been required to develop one of these plans to cover the site. In that plan it will detail how many people are allowed on site. The builder will need to manage this and is responsible for knowing if your works are permitted. You will be included in these numbers even if you aren't working directly for the builder as it is site dependent.
The astute among you may ask what the threshold for a construction site is and whether we can create our own construction sites. Our understanding is that if your works require a Building Permit, then you can deem your works to be a Small Construction Site. If your works don't require a Building Permit, then the rules are less clear and you should keep your own counsel.
Works for other permitted businesses.
Many other businesses are allowed to stay open and we are allowed to support them, ie, fast food and supermarkets are allowed to remain open. To determine if your client is eligible, you will need to consult the Business Vic page.
It also gets a little grey on what you are allowed to do on these sites, ie, COVID stickers for a Coles is 100% fine. Installing posters to advertise cheap VB slabs is very grey and you will need to keep your own counsel here as if you ask 3 people, you will get 3 different answers to this.
Permitted works for businesses that are closed.
You are allowed to do works for businesses that are closed, but only if the works are critical in nature. i.e. you are installing COVID signage in preparation for when they reopen.
Second Step Analysis
This stage will only come into effect after 28th September, but it also carries additional conditions that the virus also needs to be under 50 cases on a 14-day average. Unfortunately it isn't as simple as just waiting for the day.
Once we move to stage 2, most sign businesses will move from the "Heavily Restricted" class into the lower "Restricted" class. Unfortunately this stage will feel a lot like stage one for many businesses as much of retail remains closed.
Most manufacturing businesses can reopen but must remain below 90% of the normal daily level.
Early State Construction - Moves for 10 to 20 workers per hectare.
Small Scale Construction - Still only 5 staff on site. Now allowed to work on more sites.
Large Scale Construction - Allowed 85% of their workforce or 15 workers (whichever is greater)
One major point of consideration is "No Carpooling" to work sites meaning installers must travel in separate cars to work sites. This rule exists now as well, but I still notice many tradies either not aware of this rule or not caring about it.
While step 2 looks much like step 1, a lot more businesses will be allowed to open, which should hopefully allow an uptick in workloads.
Step 3 Analysis
This will come into effect after 26th October and will also need us to have fewer than five cases on a 14-day average.
This is the stage that we had all hoped that we might be entering next week. It will allow most businesses to reopen under a COVID Safe Plan. This can be downloaded below..
There are still many restrictions on business, but they are less harsh and mostly administer advice on the amount of people in an area and so on. They cover things like continued use of face coverings. The general rules are as follows:
staff should work from home wherever possible (to be relaxed over time)
apply density quotient for some settings (could be reduced over time)
ensure staff follow current public health directions when carpooling
Keep safe out there! And stay positive. Use this time to work on your business and come out of this a better/leaner/stronger business. Some sites are listed below for you to investigate:
The Real Media Collective (TRMC) has given some qualified support for the new roadmap, saying extended restrictions need to be weighed against the possibility of a “third wave” outbreak. Paper, print and publishing businesses can remain open under the plan but the retail sector was of critical concern, it said.
In a signal that the Melbourne-based group also intends to sidestep an increasingly vitriolic political debate over the issue, TRMC CEO Kellie Northwood said: “The plan takes a highly cautious industry-by-industry approach and has been polarising depending upon perspective.”
Her comments follow a howl of outrage this week from business owners and employer groups. Australian Industry Group CEO and former Liberal Party staffer Innes Willox called the roadmap plan ‘catastrophic.’ Jim's Mowing founder Jim Pemnan told Channel 7: “I know there are independent operators out there on suicide watch because of this.” Liberal Member for Hughes Craig Kelly said earlier that Labor Premier Daniel Andrews should face 25 years in jail for ‘workplace manslaughter.’
Northwood warned that some industry sectors, including vital retail businesses, could remain closed or restricted for weeks and months to come, but said reopening dates could be brought forward if the situation improved.
“We are monitoring closely the Retail sector, with this sector representing some 33% of our customer base. This is a critical industry sector we want to see operational as soon as possible and will be reaching out to our Retailer Association partners in support for their government discussions. Tourism, Entertainment and Hospitality are also being closely followed.
“Despite that,” Northwood added, “we are cognisant the increased detrimental effect on business and the economy needs to be tempered against a possible ‘third wave’ outbreak of COVID-19.
“The stated dates are flexible and the Premier again reiterated today that the plan will be constantly reviewed. If consistent decreases of new COVID cases occur there is the potential to move to the next stage of the plan earlier than currently stated.”
Northwood said it has been “a difficult week for our Victorian members as we navigate through an extremely cautious Victorian government plan to ‘COVID-Normal’ following the second wave outbreak.”
The TRMC represents users, producers and distributors of catalogues, direct mail, print and paper.
“Our members – paper, print and publishing, can maintain operational within the current restrictions, however we again urge you all to remain vigilant about your COVID Safe Plans and communications to your teams – even teams working off-site must be regularly updated to the COVID Safe Plan practices,” Northwood told members via email.
“Although we have successfully lobbied for our member industries in Victoria to be considered essential and given ‘permitted operating status,’ it remains critical that businesses stay the course and consistently communicate workplace safety protocols to employees.
“To assist members in considering what the next weeks and months may look like, we provide a factsheet that breaks down specific dates for significant client bases, and we provide a copy of the Victorian government plans in table form to consider. We will provide members with any updates and amendments on these issues as they are released, however contact us if you have any related queries."