Update from Dr Paul Heithersay, Chief Executive, Department for Energy and Mining.
Thursday 9 July 2020
In response to an escalation in community transmission of COVID-19 in parts of Victoria, cross border travel restrictions in South Australia have been further updated with Emergency Management (Cross Border Travel No 8) (COVID-19) Direction 2020 now in effect.
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Three groups of travellers
The revised direction creates three groups of travellers:
1. Persons arriving from a ‘low community transmission zone’
Currently this applies to persons arriving from the Northern Territory, Queensland, Western Australia and Tasmania who have not been in any other place other than a low community transmission zone within 14 days of arrival. These travellers are not required to comply with any of the Direction’s requirements.
This largely returns these workers to ‘business as usual’ arrangements. However, company infection control protocols must continue to be applied. As with all inbound travellers, online pre-approval for travel should be sought for these workers.
Given the volume of online applications, registering for pre-approval as early as possible is recommended with more than 72 hours advance notice advisable. Where this is not possible, applications will be processed at the border, meaning that consistent with earlier advice, workers must continue to carry with them evidence of their bona fides and personal identification.
2. Persons travelling from elsewhere in Australia (other than Victoria)
All travellers from New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory must self-quarantine unless they are an essential traveller. Relevant categories of essential travellers for the resources and energy sector include commercial transport and freight services (Schedule 1, Part 3) and remote or isolated workers (Schedule 1, Part 4).
The revised Direction makes no change to the requirements for FIFO/DIDO workers coming to South Australia to work at remote/geographically isolated sites, or who are returning from remote/geographically isolated sites from New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.
For clarity, Victorian residents are not prevented from reporting for remote FIFO/DIDO work in SA.
DEM has confirmed that Victorian resident FIFO/DIDO workers must comply at all times with the self-quarantine requirements under the new Schedule 3 including when that person is not at work or travelling to or from work – this includes off-duty workers on site. These workers must also wear a surgical face mask that covers mouth and nose whenever they come into contact with the public. In practice, for these workers it will mean during transit – masks are not required by law when at work.
Further, all sites must maintain records that will support rapid contact tracing by government in relation to these employees. Recordkeeping should be consistent with Part 9 of the Direction – ‘Essential travellers to keep records of close contacts’, and must be available on request to SAPOL.
Overall, the current national COVID-19 environment highlights the importance of businesses maintaining effective COVID-19 infection control protocols, and the value of measures such as asymptomatic testing. DEM acknowledges that many companies will implement measures that go beyond the requirements of the latest direction to mitigate risk to their operations.
Note that there is one additional exemption in the next section that relates to workers from New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory.
3. Persons travelling from Victoria
A person travelling from Victoria is prohibited from entering South Australia unless they are a South Australian resident or an essential traveller under Schedule 2. Relevant categories of essential travellers for the resources and energy sector include:
- Essential skills - industries and business (Schedule 2 Part 3). Note this section also applies to workers coming from the Australian Capital Territory and New South Wales
- Commercial transport and freight services (Schedule 2 Part 4)
- Remote or isolated workers who work in Victorian locations (Schedule 2 Part 5)
The revised Direction has the greatest impact on workers in this category, and any worker accessing an exemption under Schedule 2, as follows:
For SA FIFO/DIDO workers travelling to and from Victorian sites: All workers returning from remote/geographically isolated sites in Victoria must comply with 14 day self-quarantine requirements on their return to South Australia, in accordance with the new Schedule 3 requirements as explained below. If that worker is due to travel back to site within the 14 days (for example someone working on a 2/1 roster), then quarantine directions will be lifted by SAPOL as required (contact email@example.com to arrange).
For all workers seeking exemptions under the Schedule 2 essential skills and transport/freight categories: All essential skills and transport/freight workers must comply at all times with the self-quarantine requirements under the new Schedule 3 including when that person is not at work or travelling to or from work.
Further, in support of contact tracing, these workers must maintain ‘close contact’ records for the 14 days after arrival, and keep those records for a further 28 days after that. In this context, a close contact is a person with whom a worker spends two or more hours in an enclosed space, or 15 minutes or longer within 1.5 metres. Records must include name, phone number and location at which the close contact occurred, or if unknown, the time during which and location at which the close contact occurred.
While in South Australia, these cross-border travellers must wear a surgical face mask that covers mouth and nose whenever they come into contact with the public. In practice, for these workers it will mean during transit – masks are not required by law when at work.
Schedule 3 Quarantine requirements
A new Schedule 3 has been created which lists the self-quarantine requirements. Where self-quarantine is required, a person must:
- Identify a suitable place to reside and remain for the 14 days commencing on the date of arrival
- Must travel the most direct route to that place
- Remain at that place segregated from other persons
- Remain at that place, except for obtaining medical care or supplies, any other emergency situation or for a reason approved by the State coordinator or his delegate
- Take reasonable steps to ensure no other person enters that place unless they usually live there and the other person is self-quarantining, or for medical or emergency purposes
The key change to the requirements for self-quarantining is that if a person who normally resides at the premises where the worker will quarantine is not also self-quarantining then the place is not suitable for self-quarantining. There are exceptions where the person in self-quarantine is required to provide care and support to, or receive care and support from, another person.
Schedule 4 Permitted roads
The Direction also defines allowable road routes for travel between Victoria into South Australia. A complete list of roads can be found in Schedule 4 of the Direction. (Note the Dukes Highway Wolseley is the main border crossing near Bordertown.)
Streamlining FIFO travel
DEM is working with SAPOL to finalise revised templates to support enduring approvals for regular FIFO workers, removing the need for repeated online applications. Until then, DEM recommends that companies insert the following text into support letters for employees travelling to remote and/or geographically-isolated operations:
In accordance with section 4, Schedule 1 of the Cross Border Travel Direction 2020 «Personnel_First_Name» «Personnel_Last_Name» is essential to the conduct of time-critical «Defined_Activity» operations on site at «Company_Facility». This facility is remote/geographically isolated in accordance with the Direction.
«Personnel_First_Name» «Personnel_Last_Name» is on a regular
As the significant changes to the travel arrangements indicate, the response to the pandemic continues to result in a dynamic environment. I will keep you updated as further changes arise.
More information about the Department's response to managing the COVIC-19 pandemic is available on the Coronovirus (COVID-19) page of this website.
Department for Energy and Mining