The South Australian construction industry is reeling with the news it will not be exempt from a snap seven-day lockdown in the state.
Premier Steven Marshall announced the lockdown from 6pm, July 20, after the Delta strain of Covid-19 was detected in the state.
“The next week will be difficult for many South Australians, but we must go hard and we must go early to get ahead of this virus,” he said.
He announced five reasons residents could leave home, including care and compassionate reasons, such as taking care of a loved one, essential work, and buying essential goods such as food.
Masks must be worn in public places at all times. Schools will be closed for the next seven days.
But the decision not to exempt construction work from the measures has been described as a disaster for the state’s 70,000 construction workers.
Master Builders SA chief executive Will Frogley said the seven-day shutdown would be equivalent to two to three weeks lost production.
He said the lockdown would have a heavy toll on the sector.
“If the lockdown continues past seven days, we really need construction to be allowed to continue and reclassified as essential,” Frogley said.
South Australia’s construction industry was classified as essential in lockdowns in November March last year.
The industry is also locked down in NSW but not in Victoria.
In NSW, the government’s announcement that financial support packages revealed last week would be adapted to provide support for the construction industry has been welcomed by the Property Council of Australia.
The council’s acting NSW executive director Lauren Conceicao said financial support and clear communication of what was available to support workers and businesses was critical.
She said it was vital to give the industry the confidence and financial capacity to get through the shutdown and past July 30.
“This shut down has caused shock waves and even a two-week pause will have major economic impacts for the industry,” Conceicao said.
“Our focus is to ensure that the options and solutions being put forward on both the financial front and reopening plan supports the industry to get back on its feet.”
The NSW industry’s supply chain is now the focus for many in the industry as they eye a return to work.
Australian Constructors Association chief executive Jon Davies said the situation needed to be carefully navigated to protect the sustainability of the entire industry, including the supply chain.
The construction industry has a very long tail and we need to ensure all parts of the industry are supported so that we can spring back into action when the lockdown ends,” Davies said..
“You can't deliver the state’s major infrastructure projects without the full supply chain intact and we have real concerns for the smaller businesses who will undoubtedly find cashflow a major issue.”
“If the pause goes beyond July 30, it could bring smaller contractors to their knees due to cashflow issues. NSW’s ambitious infrastructure program will not get delivered with a broken supply chain.”