Mining camps have been excluded from mass gathering bans of 100 personnel or more that were introduced today. In an address to the nation, Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison Federal Government has now declared a Human Biosecurity Emergency which allows it to take action under the Biosecurity Act. Concurrently the Australian government has introduced a range of measures to mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Of the measures introduced, mining sites, construction sites, office buildings, factories and others are now excluded from the ban of mass gatherings of 100 people or less.
This means it will be business as usual for the mining industry albeit with additional control measure to be implemented to mitigate the risk of spread through the industry.
Prime Minister Morrison praised the efforts of employers across Australia saying “I want to commend employers of Australia whether they are in offices of our capital cities or elsewhere who are already putting in place quite sensible rostering arrangements in their workplace as indeed public service employers are doing as well and I am quite sure, amongst the media, you are doing similar things.”
Mining camps are defined in ‘essential activities’ criteria
The National Cabinet has accepted the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) advice that non-essential indoor gatherings of greater than 100 people (including staff) will no longer be permitted from Wednesday 18 March 2020.
But the Prime Minister said, “This does not apply to essential activities such as public transportation facilities, medical and health care facilities, pharmacies, emergency service facilities, correctional facilities, youth justice centres or other places of custody, courts or tribunals, Parliaments, food markets, supermarkets and grocery stores, shopping centres, office buildings, factories, construction sites, and mining sites, where it is necessary for their normal operation (although other social distancing and hygiene practices may be required in these settings).”
CFMEU says anxiety is building
CFMEU Mining and Energy Queensland district president Stephen Smyth said there was a lot of anxiety among mineworkers over potential exposure to the virus.
“There is particular anxiety about the prospect of being quarantined in camp and not being able to return home to families,” Mr Smyth said.
“More needs to be done to address workers’ concerns and protect their safety.”
QRC Chief says there is increased vigilance
Queensland Resources Council Chief Ian Macfarlane said that “Across mine sites there is an increased vigilance, in accordance with Queensland Health’s public advice, with the risk of COVID-19 including enhanced sanitising efforts, activating work from home policies, social distancing in crib rooms and new screening measures.”
AMSJ understands that most companies are providing regular updates to employees on the status of the outbreak and any issues likely to affect workers. Workers are being informed not to present for work, board aircraft or attend camps if they are showing any signs of the virus.
TABLE: COVID19 Cases Australia 18/3/2020, 0630 AEDT Source www. health.gov.au
Queensland cases of the virus have seen an increase in of 20% of cases overnight with the State now reporting 94 cases increasing from 78 yesterday (Note data in above has changed as of 1400 hours 18/3/20).
The Western Australian Department of Health has reported three new cases of COVID-19 overnight, bringing the State’s total to 31.
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