Melbourne Enters Covid ‘State of Disaster’ — emerging details

The Hon Dan Andrews PM (Victorian Premier) declared a State of Disaster, with Melbourne facing additional restrictions under stage 4 COVID-19 lockdown, with stage 3 for the rest of Victoria.

We are closely monitoring the changes and what is deemed an ‘essential service’. We agree with the FTA that it’s imperative for importers and exporters to be considered an essential service so that they can maintain the supply chain.

As well as stevedores, air cargo terminal operators, transport operators, licensed depots, fumigation providers and empty container parks (physical handlers of cargo), it is essential that freight forwarders and customs brokers be included as essential services.

As the FTA states:

‘Freight forwarders are playing a critical role in coordinating freight and arranging international transport, chartering aircraft and consolidation of freight. Customs brokerages are trade professionals that play an essential role of managing import compliance requirements and co-ordinating domestic transport. Biosecurity compliance managed by customs brokers is more important than ever during these challenging times.

Standards cannot be compromised as Australia cannot afford an imported pest infestation that would decimate our agriculture industry on top of a pandemic.

The entire international supply chain is fragile at the best of times, removing or limiting the capabilities of one link is not an option.

While it has been clearly articulated by the Federal Government that major supermarkets will continue as an essential service, a need exists for business continuity of other retail sectors.

In an environment whereby the policy intent is for the majority of our population to self-isolate, “last-mile” deliveries by carriers and Australia Post, facilitated through ecommerce, will play an essential role.

To ensure that freight and logistics can continue to operate effectively, all steps along the supply chain need to remain operational. Warehousing, as well as fulfilment at retail sites (where those sites may be closed to consumers), will be critical to ensuring goods are delivered and businesses can remain viable.’

Emerging Details 

  • A number of workplaces in metropolitan Melbourne are to close or are permitted to conduct restricted operations (effective 11.59 AEST Wednesday 5 August 2020) – a list of permitted industry sectors is set out HERE;
  • Retail stores will be permitted to accept stock and operate contactless ‘click and collect’ and delivery services with strict safety protocols in place;
  • Confirmation was received that ports, airports, freight and logistics may continue operations
  • While business continuity in prescribed circumstances is allowed, it is important to note the default position that all Victorians are required to work from home, except where this is not practicable; and
  • Those members that will continue onsite operations to physically handle freight, must do so in accordance with a ‘COVIDSafe Plan’ (Full details are to follow)

This is a condensed update of the state of Victoria’s ‘State of Emergency’, issued as a result of the escalating Covid-19 crisis in the region. We look at the significant impacts the escalation will have on trade, forwarding and cargo. We’d like to credit the FTA and the Australian Financial Review for their excellent work. We will continue to monitor the story closely.