News & Views

16th August 2021

TIGHTER LOCKDOWN, CURFEW: NECA CALLS ON ANDREWS TO KEEP IT SHORT AND SHARP

National Electrical and Communications Association (NECA) Victorian Executive Director Pawel Podolski has cautiously endorsed tighter lockdown restrictions announced by the Victorian government, but said it was imperative for “jobs, livelihoods and the economy” that these be eased as soon as practicable.

Responding to the announcement by Premier Daniel Andrews that lockdown conditions across the state would be tightened from Tuesday 17 August – including the reimposition of a night time curfew, the closure of parks and playgrounds, and reducing numbers on construction sites – Mr Podolski said he understood the need to tighten restrictions, but that these should be kept “as short and sharp as possible.”

“We understand that in view of the current Delta strain outbreak of COVID-19, and the difficulty in bringing it under control, that further measures are required,” Mr Podolski said.

“Even so, I would note that Melbourne has spent some 200 days in lockdown over the past 18 months, and it’s imperative that these interruptions be kept to the bare minimum necessary,” he added.

Mr Podolski said limiting staff numbers to 25%, or five people, on larger building sites, and cutting staff for all but critical infrastructure and emergency repairs, would strain businesses and the livelihoods of their staff.

“It’s important to note that Melbourne has already been through five previous lockdowns, and that businesses and employees have already faced hardship due to COVID19,” Mr Podolski said.

“This time there is no JobKeeper, and many of the relief measures from 2020 have expired, so it’s paramount this be kept as short as possible,” he added.

Mr Podolski said he was very disappointed the government had once again acted with no apparent regard for the continuity of business, saying the cumulative effects of repeated lockdowns could not be ignored.

“It’s not good enough to say, in effect, ‘you’ve survived this far, so one more won’t hurt,’” Mr Podolski said. “Sooner or later, under continued and repeated strain, the breaking point arrives.”

Mr Podolski said businesses in the electrical contracting sector had scrupulously observed all regulations and requirements imposed on them since the beginning of the pandemic, and that the latest restrictions were a slap in the face for an industry that had taken great trouble to do the right thing.

“NECA would prefer that this did not happen, and while we understand the reasoning, we also have the welfare of our members, their employees and their businesses to consider, which is why I implore the Premier not to let this latest lockdown go on a moment longer than required,” Mr Podolski concluded.

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