Premier Daniel Andrews has slammed the door shut on construction workers travelling to and from Melbourne as a result of Ballarat's COVID outbreak, which was sparked by a tradesman.
Construction workers Victoria across will also have to provide evidence to their employer that they have received at least the first dose of a COVID vaccine by 11.59pm on Thursday, September 23.
The revised rules come as Victoria recorded 514 new cases of COVID-19 on Wednesday and crossed the threshold of 70 per cent of the population receiving the first dose of a vaccine, triggering the easing.
Locally, Ballarat's outbreak expanded to six active cases, with five linked to the original case and one mystery case, and more than 20 exposure sites throughout the city.
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Under the revised lockdown conditions, metropolitan Melbourne and the City of Ballarat will be able to enjoy outdoor social interaction in small groups of up to five people, depending on vaccination status, along with an expanded 10-kilometre travel radius.
Strong demand for testing continued, with three new pop-up testing sites opening on Thursday in addition to the three already in operation.
As part of the tightening of restrictions on construction sites, tea rooms will need to close and food or drink will not be able to be consumed indoors at work, shift bubbles must be used and all sites will require a COVID-safe marshal on site.
The new rules put the construction industry under even more pressure, drastically limiting access to trades and potentially closing some sites down.
Ballarat builder Nicholson Construction said while it was working through the implications of the announcement, the restriction had the potential to shut down some of its sites across regional Victoria.
Another Ballarat builder, Langdon Building, has sites in regional Victoria and the outer-western suburbs of Melbourne and about 2000 workers inducted into its system, but now has to find out where every tradesperson that works on one of its sites lives.
Managing director Shane Langdon said the additional obstacles were making it 'nearly impossible' for the business to commit to project deadlines.
"We've got about 2000 people inducted into our system at the moment and we're working through the businesses that employ those staff and we've got to understand the percentage break-up of what they are regionally to metro, but we know we've got certain trades that are predominantly metro-based tradesmen coming down and it just changes our ability to be able to operate and build these houses," he said.
"It's going to change everyone's ability because there wouldn't be too many builders in Ballarat at the moment that would only have local trades."
Mr Langdon said having to check everyone's vaccination status as well made simply functioning as a business even harder.
"It's nearly impossible because we've got no control of who's vaccinated and when they're vaccinated," he said.
"For a tradesman to get an appointment and then get in, what hope have they got if they've got to do that through business hours? If they're trying to actually work at the same time as book, it makes it very difficult for them."
Mr Langdon said while the restrictions were tough on businesses, the effects all trickled down to the clients.
"They have all different types of pressures as well and they might be paying rent for two or three months longer than what they originally expected to and and for them financially, they're the ones I really feel sorry for out of everyone," he said.
Master Builders Victoria welcomed the introduction of mandatory vaccinations in the construction industry after several cases emerged from the sector, including in Ballarat, but said to get back to 50 per cent capacity on building sites, 90 per cent of its workforce must have had one jab by the deadline.
Chief executive Rebecca Casson said mandatory vaccination of the state's construction workers was the only way to move the industry forward.
"That's why MBV has been discussing mandatory vaccinations with government - because our industry cannot survive on a pilot light forever. Nevertheless, our message has been very clear - get the jab done for you, your workmates, and for Victoria," she said.
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