Victoria’s ‘Circuit Breaker’ Lockdown – What Employers Need To Know

Published February 12, 2021 (last updated January 25, 2022) -
Vic Lockdown 3

Employers operating across ALL of Victoria must ensure they are aware of their obligations as the state enters a five-day ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown from 11:59PM tonight, according to Employsure, Australia’s largest workplace relations advisor.

A growing cluster of cases linked to the Holiday Inn hotel at Melbourne Airport has forced the state government to reintroduce Stage 4 COVID-19 restrictions. As a result, a range of businesses will need to close as health authorities continue contact tracing.

Businesses affected include non-essential retail, pubs, clubs, entertainment venues, gyms, pools, hair dressers, beauty salons and community facilities. Hospitality venues must switch to takeaway only. Schools and early childhood centres will close, but can remain open for vulnerable children and the children of essential workers.

“Just like we saw in Western Australia last week, these short, sharp lockdowns are now the new normal across Australia as we deal with these new, infectious strains of coronavirus,” said Employsure Managing Director Ed Mallett.

“Business owners throughout Victoria must be aware of what this now means for them. If employers in affected industries are told to close, they need to abide by these rules. Not only will they incur a fine if they fail to do so, but they risk the health of their staff, customers, and clients.

“For those who can remain open, they need to direct employees to wear a mask at all times in the workplace. Businesses that can switch their operations by having employees work from home must do so.”

Business owners are being urged to remain vigilant, plan for the worst and hope for the best. If an employee or independent contractor tests positive to COVID-19 over the coming days and has physically been in the workplace while infected, the employer must notify health authorities and WorkSafe Victoria as soon as they become aware.

Having an effective infection control policy that includes identifying and assessing the infection hazards at the workplace, and implementing specific controls can help eliminate or minimise the risk of transmission. These may include physical distancing, regular handwashing with soap, and the use of hand-sanitiser. Appropriate routine environmental cleaning and disinfection should occur regularly at all workplaces.

“These next five days will be crucial for all Victorians as we work to stop this new outbreak in its tracks. Business owners need to ensure they’re meeting their health and safety responsibilities, complying with their legal obligations, and following Government directions,” continued Mr Mallett.

“All essential employees must wear a mask that covers their nose and mouth. It should be worn not just for the entire time they are on the clock, but from the moment they step outside their front door. In some circumstances, gloves should also be worn.

“Should a worker or employee fall ill, additional control measures need to be initiated. This includes isolating the infected person, identifying anyone they may have come in contact with, and disinfecting the areas they have been working in.

“Employers may need to direct employees to stay away from the workplace or to obtain medical certificates, and consider whether the employee is entitled to access paid or unpaid personal / carer’s or pandemic leave.

“This lockdown may be extended, or more may occur again as we wait for the rollout of the vaccine. Small businesses should use this time to stock up on whatever PPE is necessary for their workplace. What we don’t want to see is a fully blown third wave in Victoria as a result of workplaces becoming complacent, or simply failing to follow the rules,” he concluded.




Further enquiries:

Matthew Bridges

[email protected]

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