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Mandatory vaccine for a million Vic workers

Victorian workers needs to be vaccinated
Photo: Vaccine mandate for a million Vic workers
Premier Daniel Andrews has announced a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for all Victorian authorised workers, while the construction sector will reopen with safeguards.

A million Victorians have two weeks to get their first COVID-19 vaccination to keep working on site, as the state's construction industry prepares to reopen with strict safeguards.

Premier Daniel Andrews says all Melbourne and regional Victoria residents on the state's authorised worker list must have a first dose by October 15 and a second by November 26.

Without meeting the statewide mandate, retail workers, personal trainers, MPs, journalists, faith leaders, judges, police, lawyers, actors and professional sportspeople will not be able to continue working on site.
The October 15 deadline will not replace Victoria's separate vaccine mandate timelines for aged care, healthcare, freight, construction and education workers.

Mr Andrews said the decision, based on health advice, would encompass one to 1.25 million authorised workers in Victoria, many of whom have already had their first dose.

"This is critically important to keep the case numbers down so that we can open up on October 26, get our freedom back, get the economy going again and deliver the national plan," he told reporters on Friday.

The state government also unveiled its plan to restart the construction industry after a two-week shutdown in Melbourne and other locked-down regions.

Under the plan, constructions sites can reopen from Tuesday for workers who have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine. They must be fully vaccinated by November 13.

All operators will need to formally attest their site complies with the industry-wide health directions.

Workforce caps remain for some building sites, except for outdoor state government projects, and single-dose workers can set up ahead of Tuesday's reopening.

Fully vaccinated workers can move between regional Victoria and Melbourne, while tearooms will reopen with enhanced cleaning, density limits and additional ventilation.

"The preference is for these meal breaks to be taken outside wherever possible," Transport Infrastructure Minister Jacinta Allan said.

Widespread transmission of the virus within the industry and poor site compliance were cited as reasons for the shutdown on September 21, the same day Melbourne's CFMEU headquarters was damaged by angry protesters.

The protests began in opposition to mandatory vaccinations for the construction sector and the closure of building site tearooms, before morphing into a wider anti-lockdown and anti-vaccine movement.

Treasurer Tim Pallas defended the shutdown, noting 73 per cent of building sites visited by inspectors on September 16 were found to be non-compliant with health directions.

A fully trained COVID marshal will now be required to watch over every construction site in the state.

"We're deadly serious about this," Mr Pallas said, adding there will be hefty fines for sites caught in breach.

Construction workforce caps will be removed when Victoria hits its 80 per cent double-dose vaccination target.

The broadened vaccination mandate comes as Victoria recorded 1143 new locally acquired COVID-19 cases and three deaths on Friday, taking the death toll from the current outbreak to 44.

Greater Shepparton and Moorabool Shire, to the west and north of Melbourne, will both will enter snap, seven-day lockdowns from 11.59pm on Friday to contain growing outbreaks.

Twelve new cases were reported in Greater Shepparton and six in Moorabool on Friday, and health authorities are concerned about possible onward transmission.

Lockdown restrictions will mirror those in metropolitan Melbourne, with the exception of the nightly curfew.

Residents of both regions are being urged to come forward for testing, with two pop-up sites to be opened in Melton.

Meanwhile, Mr Andrews flagged an announcement on the Victoria-NSW border next week, declaring it would "basically open".

For exposure sites visit www.coronavirus.vic.gov.au/exposure-sites

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