Councils and GWM Water say they are taking a cautious approach to using contract workers from beyond the region to complete their projects, as metropolitan Melbourne continues to experience harsher levels of lockdown than the Grampians and Wimmera.
GWMWater director Mark Williams said all contractors, regardless of where they lived, were being vetted before they started work on infrastructure construction and renewal projects.
"Continuing works is critical to ensure we meet the current and future needs of our community, and contributes to the stimulation of our regional economy," he said.
"If deemed necessary during that vetting process, contractors must produce a Safety Management Plan which details how they will mitigate the risks of potential transmission. This includes physical distancing on site, appropriate hygiene protocols, the use of personal protective equipment including the wearing of face coverings, shared vehicles, monitoring the health of their staff and accommodation arrangements. These all need to be submitted and acceptable to GWMWater before any approval is granted to commence work."
In a statement, a Horsham Rural City Council spokesman said it sometimes used non-local contractors. This week, three travelling personnel will carry out works at the council's depot on Horsham's Selkirk Drive.
"None of the contractors are from metropolitan Melbourne. However one resides in Geelong, which was subject to heightened Coronavirus restrictions on Thursday," the spokesman said.
"Council is applying rigorous action when it comes to COVID-19 and has gone to significant lengths to ensure its contractors have a suitable Occupational Health and Safety plan which addresses Coronavirus requirements.
"Relevant aspects of this include:
- Pre-arrival arrangements, including no staff will attend if they have been in contact with COVID-19 infected people in the previous 14 days
- Daily temperature checking
- Segregation of contractor and Council staff at the depot
- Outside hours, the contractor team will be in self-contained housing and bring pre-purchased food and supplies
"Further, Council is not in a position to ban travel for work purposes, as the Victorian Government has specifically allowed this."
Ararat Rural City Council chief executive Dr Tim Harrison said the council had asked its Melbourne contract workers not to come to the region.
"They live in hotspots, and they are doing some other project work for us that they can do from home, so we have asked them not to attend," he said.
Dr Harrison said this wouldn't have an impact on the completion dates of the projects they were working on.
"We will follow the government's understandings of what is safe and what is not, so when the travel bans are lifted we will ask the workers to come back," he said.