Melbourne businesses have come under fire from the Victorian government after taking to the streets when their tearooms on their construction site were closed.
Victorian Prime Minister Daniel Andrews criticized Melbourne traders who took to the streets to rally against the new Covid-19 rules, calling their behavior “unacceptable”.
“The kind of behavior that we have seen from some construction workers today is completely unacceptable,” a government spokesman told the Sun Herald. “Due to the transmission going on at construction sites, this industry could very well face further restrictions or even closures.
“We will continue to work with the industry – but the best way for them to stay open is to get vaccinated and to work properly.”
Construction workers moved tables and chairs to roads across the CBD on Friday morning after the state government closed tearooms at construction sites.
Tradies will also need to have received its first dose of vaccine by next Thursday to be able to continue working.
Mr Andrews applied the new restrictions due to the growing risk of virus transmission in the construction industry.
But industry workers hit back Friday with workers taking their smoko and lunch break on the streets to protest the new rules.
Workers have set up an outdoor break room at the intersection of A’Beckett and Elizabeth streets in Melbourne’s CBD, blocking cars and delaying traffic.
Similar protests also took place outside construction sites on Spencer St and in Richmond.
By noon, a group of traders were on the move, dragging their chairs through the middle of the intersection of King and Lonsdale streets and sitting down for another break.
The construction union, CFMEU, is behind the protest action on Friday morning and claims that the closing of the tearooms “forced” workers to take to the streets to eat and drink.
Police intervened to surround some groups of protesters, but no fines were imposed and no arrests were made.
Protesters were happy to move on when approached by police and no violence was reported.
But the Covid-19 commander, Jeroen Weimar, was not too impressed with the actions taken by traders across the city.
He warned that teahouses were one of the “most dangerous” places for the virus to spread as the number of cases continued to rise among construction workers.
Mr Weimar said a number of cases from the latest outbreak, including on construction sites, were being transmitted to tea rooms.
“We’ve seen a number of examples, and I appreciate that people think it’s funny, but when you have people in the construction industry and they’re in a little cabin or a hut eating and drinking together is a significant risk of transmission, “he said.
“It’s an obvious risk that we have to manage. The weather is improving and it does not seem unreasonable to participate in these activities outdoors, preferably not on the tram tracks.
“I would appeal to industry and employees, so many sectors, so many employees would love to be at work.
“A lot of us would like to work almost normally and in fact people bend over backwards to keep the construction industry going and to keep important sites running for important reasons.
“Please don’t. I think we all need to be humble about this and recognize the privilege that can be gained by those of us who are still able to work.
“If you can’t sit down next to your friends having a sandwich, it doesn’t seem like a huge burden to carry.”
The action angered some Twitter users, who called marketers privileged.
“Afghan Australians are protesting the Australian government allowing their families to be killed by the Taliban. Traders are protesting in Melbourne today for not being able to use their tearooms. Privilege at its worst. We don’t understand how lucky we are in this country, ”said Kon Karapanagiotidis, director general of the Asylum Seekers Resource Center.
He then followed up with a second tweet, calling the situation “total bullshit”.
But other well-known users, including One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts and Liberal MP Ryan Smith, backed the move, praising protesters for fighting back against the restrictions.
Victoria’s construction union, CFMEU, said the new measure to close ‘smoke sheds’ would do nothing to prevent the spread of the virus and pose other health and safety concerns for workers.
The union claimed the rule “forced” thousands of workers to move their tables and chairs to the streets.
They said the large-scale construction industry has continually tried to consult with the Andrews government on restrictions and invest millions in Covid health and safety measures.
“The hard-working construction workers who fought so hard to keep everyone safe, and the chief medical officer then tells them that after a dirty, hard and dangerous job, they can’t even get away with it. sit down for a cup of coffee, ”the CFMEU secretary of state said. said John Setka.
“CHOs can’t just choose when they want to consult. Next time around, it would be great if we could all work together to get it right. “
The Prime Minister announced Thursday that tea rooms will be closed on construction sites and that food or drinks cannot be consumed indoors at work.
Mr Andrews said shift bubbles must be practiced and all sites would require a CovidSafe marshal.
Construction workers can now not cross the metropolitan-regional border to work and will need to receive their first dose of Covid-19 vaccination by 11:59 p.m. on September 23 in order to continue working during the lockdown.
“Construction workers have a week to procure, if they haven’t already received a first dose,” Andrews said.
“We have seen too many cases in construction.”