STAY-at-home orders have come into effect in Victoria as of Thursday evening, but freight and port workers are still able to go to work under the restrictions in place to combat COVID-19 outbreak in the state. 

The Victorian government has deemed workers in air transport; port operations; freight services (including postal and courier services); and transport, freight or logistics as “authorised workers”. This means workers who fall in these categories can go to work during the present lockdown.

The acting premier James Merlino said the “circuit breaker” restrictions would remain in place through 3 June. 

Victorian residents are able to leave home only for food and supplies; authorised work; care and caregiving; exercise; and getting vaccinated. 

The National Road Transport Association has said heavy vehicle operators are being told to prepare for lengthy border delays. 

NatRoad CEO Warren Clark said it was “Groundhog Day” for members who needed to cross state borders regularly. 

“They’re well versed in the contradictory rules that add to the red tape burden of owning or operating a heavy vehicle,” Mr Clark said.  

“We’re renewing our calls for all levels of government to deliver a standardised system of border permits for the road freight industry.” 

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 Mr Clark said every major border needs a dedicated freight lane to prevent truck drivers being caught in delays that can last hours. He said lengthy border delays had a serious impact on their ability of drivers to adhere to fatigue management requirements. 

“It’s clearly a safety issue and if we’re going to acknowledge road freight as an essential service’, then let’s not just pay lip service,” he said. 

“Road freight has kept the country moving during the pandemic and will continue to transport essential supplies of all kinds for all Australians. 

“To keep doing this essential work, we need consistency from every State and territory regarding border closures, permit conditions, testing regimes and consistent timing for asymptomatic testing as they affect the road freight industry and its workers.

Meanwhile, the Australian Logistics Council is encouraging all Australian governments to adhere to the Domestic Border Control Freight Movement Protocol 

The protocol says state and territory authorities “… should consult with other relevant governments, regulators and with industry in relation to border controls at shared borders to ensure that requirements are communicated and understood.” 

ALC interim CEO Rachel Smith said “The removal of restrictions on freight movements has enabled significant community amenity during this time, ensuring essential goods including groceries and medical supplies have reached and continue to reach those who need it most.  

“ALC continues to work with governments to permanently remove these restrictions, as the supply chain has proved to be integral to the evolving needs to the communities they serve.  

“Australia’s supply chain is the unsung heroes of the pandemic,” Ms Smith said. 

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