Update from Dr Paul Heithersay, Chief Executive, Department for Energy and Mining including a message from Premier Steven Marshall and SA Health's briefing for the resources industry.
Premier Steven Marshall held a telephone hook-up today with key players in the energy and mining sectors to provide an update on the progress of the state’s pandemic response. While there are some issues to be resolved in relation to proactive testing, the message was clear that the government welcomed industries' cooperation in responding to the efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus and ensuring key industrial regions remained infection-free. While current restrictions have been effective in slowing the spread of the virus and have taken pressure off our health system, there is no indication that these measures will be eased in the near future. However, the Premier was optimistic that increased restrictions on travel and business activity to ensure social distancing are unlikely at this stage.
Thank you for your ongoing cooperation and compliance with both the letter and the spirit of South Australia's Cross Border Travel Direction through your efforts to reduce worker and contractor movements and implementing hygiene and social distancing protocols.
While the statistics indicate reduced rates of transmission across the country, every single employer’s contribution to maintaining this trajectory will continue to be important. Your continued operations, critical as they are to our national economy, will also be Australia’s platform for a post-Covid19 recovery.
I encourage you to continue to revisit and refine your response plans especially in relation to fly-in, fly-out and swing shift rostering.
SA Health briefing for industry
Industry representatives from APPEA, SACOME, CCAA and AMEC, and some of South Australia’s largest employers across the resources and energy sectors, last week joined a teleconference briefing on South Australia’s COVID-19 response from a SA Health perspective from Dr Chris Lease, Deputy Chief Public Health Officer.
From Dr Chris Lease:
“I would like to acknowledge the significant efforts of SA’s resources and energy employers to respond to COVID-19 transmission risk. Combined with detailed strategies for isolation and contact tracing as part of your business continuity planning, minimising risk to employees by reducing travel and shift changes to as low as is reasonably safe and practicable is important from not only a public health perspective, but for maintaining operations and positioning your sector for swift recovery when restrictions are eased.”
To summarise Dr Lease’s responses to industry questions during the phone hook-up:
- Early response across the sector to reducing worker movements and implementing infection control plans, and subsequent submission of those plans to SA Health have bee extremely important for both the performance and reputation of the sector.
- Sustained confidence in those plans, and in particular in the effectiveness of contact tracing measures, has the potential to best position energy and resources when eventually the government winds back restrictions.
- SA Health is working relentlessly to expand testing arrangements, reduce turnaround times particularly in regional SA, and review alternate testing measures.
Building on the widely broadcast ‘stay home this Easter’ message, I implore all participants in the sector to continue to carefully control their interactions with regional communities across the State, and observe the requirement to avoid at-risk Aboriginal communities detailed at https://www.niaa.gov.au/indigenous-affairs/coronavirus-covid-19
The Department for Energy and Mining is working with resource and energy departments across the national and their Resources Ministers on COVID-19 challenges such as emergency worker movements and supply chain issues. I will continue to keep you updated.
Wednesday 15 April 2020