Vic print open in stage 4 lockdown

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Printers are breathing a huge sigh of relief  as the Victorian commercial print industry has not been shut down under tough new measures taken by the state government, but they must have a Covid-safe plan in place by 11.59pm on Friday to stay open. 

Need a Covid safe plan by Friday night: Daniel Andrews keeps printshops open
Need a Covid safe plan by Friday night: Daniel Andrews keeps printshops open

Victoria now has some of the harshest lockdown measures in the world, as it battles the fallout from its bungled hotel quarantine programme, with forced stay at home orders, business closures, mandatory masks, a 5km travel restriction, and a nightly curfew.

Premier Daniel Andrews and the Victoria Covid response team in government placed printing in category 2 of the state's new three category scheme for business during the stage 4 lockdown.

Being placed in category 2 means that print business can remain open and operate as normal, as long as there is a Covid-safe plan in place by 11.59pm on Friday. Category 1 is close completely, category 3 open with restrictions. There can be no late evening or night shifts though, with newspaper printers excepted.

Andrew Macaulay, CEO at the PVCA said, "In a difficult situation this is really good news. The Victorian state government has listened to industry. We welcome the development."

There are though plenty of Victorian businesses that are facing an enforced closure, including much of the hospitality, retail and construction sectors, all of which will have an adverse impact on print, as the state government works to prevent people from mingling with each other.

Workers who live more than five kilometres from the workplace need to be issued with a letter from their employer stating where they work, as well as their name, address and contact details. Andrew Macaulay said, "Our advice to print business owners and managers is make sure you have the paperwork in order, there will be large fines if not." PVCA has a pro-forma letter available should anyone need it.

Print was fearing being bundled into a stage four lockdown the same as New Zealand went through, which saw all non-essential print stop, with the country's biggest publisher Bauer closing its business as a result. Victoria declared a state of disaster at the weekend – essentially a mechanism to enable sweeping powers for government.

Employers organisation PVCA worked with the main print union AMWU to lobby the case for print remaining open directly to the state government, as well as lobbying directly itself, and with other employers associations. Macaulay said, "Print is one of the few industries where the employers association and the union work so well together, and are recognised as doing so."

Both major Australian heatset businesses IVE and Ovato have large print plants in Victoria, which also numbers some of the country's biggest commercial printers, label printers, packaging printers, book printers and trade houses among its community.

The country's other seven states and territories have so far kept a second wave at bay, although the biggest state economy NSW is, according to the government, walking a tightrope. Its treasurer though has signalled an unwillingness to close down business.

Premier Andrews said businesses in regional Victoria that have been forced to close under stage three will have access to $5000 grants. Businesses in Melbourne can apply for a further $5000 because they have been asked to close for longer than the initial six-week lockdown announced last month.

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