LOCKDOWN LATEST: HOW TO STAY PRINTING

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Print businesses in Victoria, South Australia and regional NSW are now out of lockdown, but there are strict guidelines they must adhere to, while Sydney printers in three more LGAs face stricter movements on staff. 

Covid lockdown: Print with caveats
Covid lockdown: Print with caveats

As the situation in Sydney escalates with Parramatta, Georges River, and Campbelltown now also having severe worker restrictions, essential services is the banner under which printers are operating in lockdown, under the assumption that essential services need supply chain providers to ensure they can keep functioning, with printing and packaging fulfilling those provisions.

Metro Sydney is now in lockdown for at least the next four weeks. Increased financial support is coming for business from both the NSW state government and the federal government. State treasurer Dominic Perrottet said, "Today is a difficult day for our state."

The treasurer increased the maximum weekly payments to businesses to $100,000 a week from $10,000, based on 30 per cent of the payroll if turnover is down by 30 per cent on the same period two years ago, and providing staff levels are maintained. Staff themselves can continue to claim $600 a week if their hours have been cut by 20 a week or more.

Businesses in Victoria and South Australia do have to abide by strict conditions in order to stay open. The Victoria government has asked businesses to allow staff to work from home where they reasonably can, and wants a maximum 25 per cent capacity in the workplace.

In South Australia the one person maximum for every four square metres still applies, and staff who can work from home should be doing so. Both SA and Victioria continue to mandate the wearing of masks in the workplace, as well as eveywhere else outside the home.

In NSW there are three different sets of restrictions; one for regional NSW, one for metro Sydney and one for what is now eight local government areas (LGAs) within the metro area.

Print businesses in the eight NSW LGAs now in hard lockdown – Fairfield, Liverpool, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Blacktown, Parramatta, Georges River, and Campbelltown – can continue to operate, but must not have any staff from any of the other seven locked down areas working for them.

So for instance a print business located in the Canterbury-Bankstown LGA can have staff working on site who reside in the Canterbury-Bankstown LGA, but they must not have any staff who reside in Fairfield , Liverpool, Blacktown, Parramatta, Goeorges River, Campbelltown and Cumberland LGAs. 

Print businesses elsewhere in Sydney who have staff residing in one of the eight areas are not allowed to have them work in the printshop, with one exception - if the staff are engaged in the production of packaging for food and beverages they are exempt, and are free to travel to wherever their workplace is located, and work there.

Print businesses in the eight locked down areas can also have staff who reside elsewhere in metro Sydney coming into their workplace, those staff are able to come into the print plant, and then leave to go back home outside the LGA at the end of their work.

Production staff who live in one of those eight LGAs can only work for a print business in the same LGA, except if they work for a labels or packaging printer elsewhere, in which case they can travel to that location. Apart from that they cannot go to work. If they do go to work outside their area for a labels or packaging printer, and live in the Canterbury-Bankstown LGA, they need to take a so-called surveillance test every three days. Production staff who live anywhere else in Sydney can go to work in any location, including the eight LGAs in lockdown.

Print businesses in the rest of metro Sydney can continue to manufacture, but they must not have any staff from those eight locked down LGAs working on site, for the next week at least, apart from the exception of printing food and beverage packaging.

In NSW state premiere Gladys Berejiklian has effectively told businesses to decide for themselves if they are essential services, and if they are they can stay open. She closed down most retail and all construction until 30 July.

For all printers Walter Kuhn, president of the PVCA said: "A company has to decide if the work they are doing is supporting essential activity. Some of that is easy to affirm - the likes of labels for foodstuffs, Covid-safe floor graphics, flyers for medical centres - other items are not as easy to define."

Kellie Northwood, CEO, The Real Media Collective, said, "Printers are able to work as essential service supply chain providers."

SA and VIC have lists of essential services, NSW does not, but Ines Willox, CEO of employers association Ai Group lambasted calls to create essential services list, saying they were being made by "loudmouth commentators", calling them "misguided" and "ham-fisted".

Queensland is currently not in lockdown, although there are a few restrictions, with WA,and Tasmania in similar situations. . A Perth printer told Print21 that when Perth was in lockkdown two weeks ago the business was visited by police and told to stop printing, unless it was printing Covid related material.

On the east coast states there are five main caveats for business continuing to print in lockdown. They include allowing staff who can work from home to do just that. So, admin and sales staff should work from home where possible and not be coming into the workplace. NSW has instigated a $10,000 fine for any business that insists staff come to the office who can reasonably work form home.

In addition all staff at work need to wear masks at all times. Social distancing needs to be maintained, which includes the 1.5m rule, and there needs to be a maximum one person for every 4sqm inside.

A Covid-safe plan needs to be implemented, communicated, visible to all, and understood by staff, and any visitors need to be registered through the QR code before entry, and they must also wear masks, and preferably be kept outside the building.

Visiting clients in their workplace is a grey area, but the PVCA urges caution in all respects, and in the current climate few client visits would be happening.

Sign association Asga advises that in Sydney sign and display installations should not go ahead, except where they are directly Covid-related. It says in Victoria installation can go ahead, both outdoors and indoors, except indoors where the public are allowed, for instance, in supermarkets during opening hours. In that case the installation would have to take place after closing time. However, installing Covid signage is allowed at any time. Asga does say these guidelines are its considered view.

Government support to the tune of $600 a week is available for full-time staff whose hours have been reduced by 20 hours or more to claim, with $375 available for part-time staff.

Print businesses can claim 40 per cent of their payroll, up to $100,000 a week, if they can show turnover is 30 per cent down on the same period two years ago, provided they maintain their staff levels.

Industry strongly supported the new funding, Kellie Northwood said, "The joint financial support for businesses announced are welcomed, and the initial notice indicates the support for business is appropriate.”

 

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