Restrictions on display suites and one-on-one inspections will hamper sales and construction pipelines according to industry bodies, the Real Estate Institute of Victoria and the Urban Development Institute of Australia, who both voiced concerns about the Victorian government’s “roadmap to Covid-normal” announced on Sunday.
The construction and real estate industries remain on Victoria’s tightest lockdown levels, with restrictions to reduce on 28 September and 26 October respectively.
Corelogic reported only 28 auctions on the weekend compared to 765 last year, and two-thirds of those were withdrawn, driving the clearance rate to 33.3 per cent.
Victoria’s roadmap to Covid-normal shows that restrictions will continue in both industries until infection levels reach “trigger points” and restrictions can move to the next step.
The four-step plan begins at current restrictions levels—where workers in construction sites are limited and realty services are heavily restricted—and will move to the second step at the end of the month, with step four expected to be reached by 23 November.
Melbourne Metro Covid Construction, Real Estate Roadmap
|Step||Specific Measures||Date/Trigger Point|
|First Step||Heavily Restricted. Early stage land development: 10 workers per hectare. Small-scale: 5 workers per site. Large-scale: 25% baseline or 5 workers, whichever is greater.||13 Sept|
|Second Step||Restricted. Early stage land development: 20 workers per hectare. Small-scale: 5 workers per site. Large-scale: 85% baseline or 15 workers with a dedicated Covid-Safe monitor on site.||28 Sept - 30 to 50 cases a day in a fortnight|
|Third Step||Covid-Safe Plan. No restrictions per site. Large-scale: Dedicated Covid-Safe monitor on site.||26 Oct - less than 5 cases with unknown source in a fortnight|
|Last Step||Covid-Safe Plan. Large-scale: Dedicated Covid-Safe monitor on site.||23 Nov - no new cases for a fortnight|
|First Step||Heavily Restricted. Services related to property settlement or commencement/end-of-lease (including removalists) that cannot be done remotely are allowed.||13 Sept|
|Second Step||Heavily Restricted. Services related to property settlement or commencement/end-of-lease (including removalists) that cannot be done remotely are allowed.||28 Sept - 30 to 50 cases a day in a fortnight|
|Third Step||Restricted. Limited activities allowed including outdoor auctions (with caps) and private inspections by appointment.||26 Oct - less than 5 cases with unknown source in a fortnight|
|Last Step||Covid-Safe Plan||23 Nov - no new cases for a fortnight|
^ Source: Victoria State Government
All restrictions will be removed when there are no new cases for 28 days, including active cases, and this is also a trigger point for a public health review.
Premier Daniel Andrews said the sacrifices made by the people of Victoria are making a difference in driving Covid levels down.
“The first step will mean modest changes. Small improvements we can make, to make life a little bit easier, without giving away any of Victorians’ hard-won gains,” Andrews said.
“Regional Victoria, currently in stage 3 restrictions, will be able to jump to the second step of reopening. Melbourne metro will move to the second step on 28 September.
“Under the second step in metropolitan Melbourne, we’ll get more people back to work—some 100,000 workers across construction, manufacturing, and landscape garden and maintenance workers who operate alone.
“With clear and articulated case targets, we’re creating “trigger points” for review for our public health team—and giving Victorians even more insight into how we’re tracking.”
However, the roadmap came under scrutiny by the real estate industry, whose role in creating stamp duty represents the second-highest contributor to state government revenue.
REIV chief executive Gil King said there was a lack of understanding from the government regarding the operations of the real estate sector, and since members are already extremely cautious, inspections should be allowed to start sooner.
“Private inspections are far safer than going to the supermarket. No-one watches me there and wipes down the Corn Flakes packet that I pick up and then return to the shelf.”
King said without inspections, buying and leasing could not proceed, keeping many people out of appropriate shelter and pushing many vendors and investors to the brink.
UDIA Victoria chief executive Danni Hunter said the institute had been working with the state government for the past week to demonstrate the ability of the construction industry to keep cases at a minimum.
“While there is inevitably deep disappointment that our sector cannot return to work immediately, the building, construction and development industry remains committed to working diligently toward a full reopening, in partnership with the government,” Hunter said.
“As well as gaining clarity for members, we are also advocating hard for the reopening of display homes and sales suites to keep the sales pipeline flowing.”
The chief executive of peak industry association Ai Group, Innes Willox said the roadmap was simply prolonging the pain of employers and employees.
“All reasonable health advice recognises that the virus will be with us for years and points to the need for us to do better to keep our economy open and take practical steps to keep workplaces safe,” Willox said.
“Hoping for a vaccine and constantly threatening to shut down business activity is not an economic strategy.”