VIC Lockdown: What work can be carried out in occupied premises
What building and non-essential maintenance work can occur in occupied premises?
The Victorian Government has advised that during the COVID lockdown, in occupied premises, certain work can continue only if:
- the service is provided by one worker (unless additional workers are required for safety reasons)
- the work occurs outside, and
- physical distancing can always be maintained.
Under these conditions, only the following outdoor work can continue:
- maintenance, repairs, and cleaning (including garden, painting, and pool maintenance)
- home installations
- home solar panel installations (if roof cavity access is required, it must have external access).
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Essential maintenance is permitted indoors or outdoors whether the premises is occupied or not.
All workers must wear face masks indoors and outdoors unless a lawful reason not to wear one applies.
Can essential maintenance continue in occupied premises?
Maintenance work in homes or apartments where residents are staying can only continue where it is essential for the continued operation of:
- essential infrastructure and essential services that are required to maintain or protect human health, safety, and wellbeing (whether provided by a public or private undertaking), and including construction, maintenance, and repair of such infrastructure
- critical repairs to any premises where required for emergency or safety
- services to support ongoing provision and regulation of electricity, gas, water, sewage, and waste and recycling services and their maintenance. This includes services to ensure solar or battery supply at off-grid premises.
When is an apartment considered ‘unoccupied’?
An apartment is regarded as unoccupied only when all apartments in that building are empty. If any apartments have residents, all apartments in the building are considered to be occupied.
What does ‘critical repairs for emergency or safety reasons’ mean?
‘Critical repairs for emergency or safety reasons’ are urgent repairs which must be undertaken to keep individuals within properties and work premises safe, to prevent individuals (including workers) from injury, to prevent property damage or damage to goods, or for urgent repair to an essential service. Urgent repair examples include:
- burst water service
- blocked or broken toilet system
- serious roof leak
- gas leak
- dangerous electrical fault
- flooding or serious flood damage
- serious storm or fire damage
- an essential service or appliance for hot water, water, cooking, heating, cooling, or laundering is not working
- the gas, electricity or water supply is not working
- the property does not meet minimum rental standards
- a safety-related device, such as a smoke alarm or pool fence, is not working
- an appliance, fitting or fixture that is not working and causes a lot of water to be wasted
- any fault or damage in the property that makes it unsafe or insecure, including pests, mould, or damp caused by or related to the building structure
- a serious problem with a lift or staircase.
Can renovations proceed at occupied premises?
No. Tradespeople and builders cannot visit homes for renovations but can provide repairs, maintenance, home installations, and other building works if able to perform the work solo (unless additional workers are required for safety reasons) and only outdoors. Physical distancing must be maintained at all times.
If you have vacated the property and it is completely unoccupied, then renovations can proceed in line with restrictions on small-scale construction.
If you’re still living at the property, then tradespeople and builders can only make emergency repairs indoors.
Is fitting out and refurbishment work considered construction activity?
Fitting out is considered a construction activity if it is the last stage of construction required to ensure the space is usable and can be issued with the necessary certificates of completion.
For example, where the completion of a hotel development would be delayed if the fit-out did not take place, the fit-out is considered construction activity.
The installation of fixtures and furniture for reasons other than this is generally not regarded as construction.
In situations where refurbishment or renovation work involves simple tasks such as cleaning, painting, and minor repairs, it should be treated similarly to fit-out activities. These works are not considered construction activities unless they are undertaken as part of a construction project already in progress.
While completing critical repairs for emergency and safety reasons is permitted, non-essential refurbishment is not a permitted construction activity in metropolitan Melbourne and areas under lockdown restrictions in regional Victoria.
Master Electricians have unlimited, direct access to the MEA Employer Advice Line. If you need assistance with vaccination requirements in your workplace call the Employer Advice Line on 1300 889 198.