As restrictions across Australia continue to react to COVID-19 second dose vaccinated rates and case numbers, businesses are left trolling through government websites to find applicable restrictions that may prevent reopening their offices.
Ultimately, conveyancers in NSW can return to the office throughout the state with density limits and mandatory QR codes, Queensland property lawyers are also able to return to the office with little mandated restrictions, and Victoria are able to return to the office under COVID-Safe practices.
Below is a short summary of each state restrictions and return to work policies.
Return to Work State-by-State
New South Wales
New South Wales “reopened” to COVID normal status on October 11, allowing hundreds of thousands of office workers to return to their desks for the first time in months.
Masks were initially mandatory in office spaces, however, as of the 80 per cent fully vaccinated mark reached on October 18, masks are no longer mandatory in the office.
Businesses must still allow employees to work from home if they wish, however, those who are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 are welcome to return to the office.
Businesses must also have a COVID-19 Safety Plan, and adhere to physical distancing and density limits and have a NSW Government QR code for their premises.
If a staff member tests positive, whether they are vaccinated or unvaccinated, they must self-isolate for 14 days and follow the advice from NSW Health. Businesses will refer to their COVID-19 Safety Plan and risk assessment approach for further instructions on notifying other staff.
Businesses must also inform NSW Health if three or more employees test positive for COVID-19 in a seven-day period. NSW Health guidelines will enable businesses to assess workplace risk if a COVID- 19 case is identified and confirm actions to be taken.
Businesses can reduce the risk of closure or staff going into isolation by implementing rigorous COVID-19 Safety Plans. Other proactive steps businesses can take include ensuring staff are vaccinated and implementing regular onsite testing programs for workers.
More return to work information for small business owners can be found at the NSW Government Small Business Commissioner website.
Queensland is continuing to ease restrictions as it moves towards a new COVID-19 normal. For this reason, public servants who have been working from home are now encouraged to increase their presence in their usual workplace.
Unless your workplace is a restricted business (defined in the Restrictions on Businesses, Activities and Undertakings Direction), there are no COVID-19 restrictions that apply. For example, office environments are not restricted under current Public Health Directions.
For non-restricted workplaces like property lawyer offices, each individual workplace can make decisions about how to support staff to safely increase their presence in the workplace.
Whilst non-restricted workplaces are exempt from COVID-19 restrictions, it is important to remember that every workplace must continue to comply with existing workplace health and safety obligations to ensure the safety of workers and others.
This includes continuing COVID-Safe practices, including hand hygiene and physical distancing.
COVID-Safe measures in place in Queensland public service workplaces include:
- Regular cleaning and disinfecting of high-traffic areas and high-touch surfaces.
- Ongoing provision of alcohol-based hand sanitiser and soap for handwashing
- Ongoing hygiene practices and physical distancing whenever possible
All staff returning to the workplace should practice physical distancing where possible, maintain personal and workplace hygiene and stay home if they show signs of illness or feel unwell.
For firms located within a central larger building, occupant density limits do not apply.
For example, there are no COVID-19 restrictions on the number of people who can be in foyers, tea rooms, meeting rooms, bathrooms, shared office workspaces, and lifts.
As for Face masks, on occasions, instances may arise when Queensland Health advice changes and the mandatory wearing of face masks directive is temporarily implemented.
At all other times, it is encouraged to wear a mask in any indoor or outdoor space when physical distancing is not possible.
More return to work information can be found at the Queensland Government’s returning to the workplace guidelines.
Businesses operating in Metropolitan Melbourne under restrictions updated from 6pm, October 29, conveyancing firms and its employees are permitted to return to the office.
From 26 November 2021, select workers will be required to have received two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine (unless they have a medical exemption).
See Information for industry and workers required to be vaccinated for further details.
Every firm which has returned to the office must use the Victorian Government QR Code Service to check-in customers, workers and visitors, with some limited exceptions. Every visitor must check-in, no matter how long they are at the premises.
More return to work information can be found at the Victorian Government’s office workplace guidance updates.
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