The rules if you need a tradie

Your wifi is down and you can’t hit that work deadline from home without internet access. Your plumbing is bung and a leak is making confinement a wet chaos. But across the country, there are strict coronavirus rules. Can you get a tradie over to fix your damaged self-isolated world?

The answer, thankfully, is yes.

Tradespeople are still allowed to visit your property to perform essential work, despite strict social distancing protocols.

In Victoria, where state of emergency provisions ban social visitors, Department of Health and Human Services directions state: “You shouldn’t let anyone outside your immediate household group come into your home, unless you really need help – and it can only be done in person”.

‘Critical work’ is allowed, though householders are urged to minimise physical contact by not paying with cash and keeping their (1.5 metre) distance from the worker.

Such clarifications are so common that figures such as Victoria’s chief health officer, Brett Sutton, have become minor media celebrities, regularly delivering their verdict on issues raised by talkback radio or online forums.

In this instance, Dr Sutton told ABC radio that the rules for tradies – not included in the Department of Health guidelines – are more stringent.

They must check if anyone at the property they are attending has been diagnosed with COVID-19, has been in contact with a case or is in self-quarantine. They must also ask householders to keep away from where they are working and wash their hands regularly or use sanitiser.

Essential building workers are exempt from stage three restrictions under strict provisions. Construction industry protocols listed by the Housing Industry Association run to 35 points and over 700 words, including the necessity for “developing an action plan in consultation with the homeowner regarding site management” and “applying the one person per four square metre rule for building work being undertaken in enclosed or internal spaces”.

The major construction industry is so desperate to keep working that previously sworn enemies, the Master Builders Association and union CFMEU Construction, joined forces to release a joint statement in which they vowed to “work co-operatively” to battle the impact of coronavirus.

Victorian Building Authority best practice guidelines point readers to a detailed a guide on how to clean and disinfect.

Point one of four is: “Wear gloves when cleaning and disinfecting. Gloves should be discarded after each clean. If it is necessary to use reusable gloves, gloves should only be used for COVID-19-related cleaning and disinfection and should not be used for other purposes. Wash reusable gloves with soap and water after use and leave to dry. Clean hands immediately after removing gloves.”

Disinfectant should be applied to surfaces using disposable paper towel or a disposable cloth. If non-disposable cloths are used, workers must ensure they are laundered and dried before reusing.

Phew.

It’s a tough time to be working for those not stuck at home; be grateful if they come to your house!

If you suspect you or a family member has coronavirus, you should call (not visit) your GP or ring the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080.

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Written by Will Brodie

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