In light of the circumstances, both the National Cabinet and individual State and Territoy Governments have implemented new restrictions. Here are the latest updates:
The State Government has announced that effective immediately, all people entering South Australia in any manner must self-isolate for 14 days from their arrival. This aligns with similar measures in the Northern Territory and Tasmania, with Western Australia also announcing similar measures.
Exemptions will apply for essential transport including health and medical supplies, and health personnel and patients, food and commercial supply chains (i.e. the carrying of goods), health workers, near border interactions, travel of a relative/carer of a dependant individual, and for emergency services.
For the purpose of interstate travel, who is an essential traveller?
SAPOL has provided further direction about the responsibilities of travellers.
The direction provides exemptions to those classified as an ‘essential traveller’. Travellers entering the state will be required to determine if they meet these requirements. A member of the public who believes they are an ‘essential traveller’, will be asked to justify their status if they are spoken to by police at a checking point or any other place in the State.
The officer will then make a final determination and where appropriate allow the traveller to transit into the state uninterrupted, or in other cases the requirements to quarantine under the direction will apply.
The direction generally includes those listed below as ‘essential travellers’:
- National and state security and governance
- Health services
- Essential medical treatment
- Transport and freight services
- Skills critical to maintaining key industries or businesses
- Emergency Services workers
- Cross border community members
- Passing through (travellers will need to make their own enquiries about entry into their final state destination)
- Compassionate grounds
While police will be present at checking points across the state, members of the public travelling into the state may also be stopped by police patrols and enquiries made as to their movements and reason for travelling into the state to ensure compliance with the direction.
Transport and freight services are defined as any person who in the conduct of his or her duties is providing transport OR freight services in to, within and out of South Australia and is required to be present in South Australia for such purposes.
Restrictions on social gathering
The following facilities will be restricted from opening from midday local time 23 March 2020:
- Pubs, registered and licenced clubs (excluding bottle shops attached to these venues), hotels (excluding accommodation)
- Gyms and indoor sporting venues
- Cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos, and night clubs
- Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery
- Religious gatherings, places of worship or funerals (in enclosed spaces and other than very small groups and where the 1 person per 4 square metre rule applies).
The restrictions do not apply to normal retail shops or services in South Australia, but this may come in Stage 2.
These restrictions build on the existing restrictions around social distancing which continue to apply:
- No non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people outside or more than 100 people inside.
- All non-essential indoor gatherings of less than 100 people must have no more than one person per 4sqm. All Australians should expect their local businesses to be following this rule.
- Where possible, keep 1.5 metres between yourself and others
- Avoid non essential travel
- Restrictions on entering aged care homes to protect older Australians
Can an employee take carer’s leave to care for children due to the online learning and school closures at the end of Term 1?
The State Government has confirmed that schools will run student free for the final week of Term 1, with students to engage in online learning. However, arrangements to supervise students whose parents who cannot make other arrangements and need to work will be in place.
For those employees who do stay home to care for their children, then they may be able to access carer’s leave for this limited time on the basis that this constitutes an “unexpected emergency”. However, this would likely only apply to this week, and would not apply to the school holidays. At this stage, the government is indicating school will return as normal after the school holidays, but if it remains student-free, or parents choose to keep students at home, in either case, this would be sufficient time for parents to make other arrangements, and therefore it would no longer be an unexpected emergency and not justify carer’s leave.
Other options are to allow working from home, if that is possible, and any reasonable request should not be refused, or to encourage employees to access the arrangements with school for supervision of students for families who require it.
Restrictions in Victoria, New South Wales and the ACT
Despite media, Victoria, New South Wales and the ACT have not yet adopted additional restrictions, save that Victoria has brought forward their school holidays to commence on Tuesday 24 March 2020, and the ACT will close schools and go online form the same day. Apart from individual schools, all other schools remain open.
If restrictions continue to escalate, the definition of what are essential services are will be critical. There is no clear definition, and will depend on the directions, but the following is a guide:
Energy & power resources and supply; Fuel resources and supply; public transport and transportation of freight; public health services; production & supply of pharmaceutical products & services; provision of garbage /sanitary /cleaning services; water supply; conduct of welfare institutions; conduct of prisons; Emergency services - police, fire, CFS, ambulance, voluntary rescue services; production & supply of food. Overseas mechanics have remained open also as essential services, but most other retail sales and services have been closed.
The MTA are pressing for a clear guide on what are essential services, and that our members whose services are essential to the operation and well-being of society can remain open.
We will continue to provide updates regularly, both by email and on our website, or call the WR team on (08) 8291 2000.
MTA COVID-19 Member survey results
Between Friday 17 April and Wednesday 22 April 2020, the MTA SA/NT reached out to survey 100 members across each of its 12 divisions, receiving a total of 97 responses. Members were surveyed about a range of topics including the impacts of COVID-19 to trade and staff, the assistance offered by Governments, as well as what the future may hold.
The results of the survey reflect a concerning decline in economic activity within the automotive industry from mid-March due to cancellations and a lack of customers. More than three quarters of members surveyed indicated that they have experienced a drop of at least 20 per cent in business turnover, and more than one third have experienced a drop of between 40 and 60 per cent. This places a significant proportion of the automotive industry within the range of eligibility for JobKeeper assistance. Despite this, there are some signs of hope with roughly a third of businesses indicating that conditions are stabilising to a “new normal” of decreased business activity. Businesses are also using this time to improve their processes, adopt new technology and upskill their staff.
The MTA SA/NT appreciates the time taken by members to complete the survey, and will use the data to support its continued advocacy to government regarding the importance of automotive industry specific stimulus measures. While some businesses are eligible to receive support from the Government, increasing cash flows remains to be solved. The clear message the MTA SA/NT is receiving from members is that despite the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, social distancing and restrictions – they are still open for business.