Legislation Updates

Update on COVID-19 restrictions for NSW workers

The New South Wales government has responded to requests to clarify the rules for HVAC&R workers in the state. Although some information has already been shared, restrictions continue to change.

The update below was received by AIRAH on Monday, August 2 from the NSW Treasury Taskforce. These directions are subject to amendment at any time. For the most up-to-date information, go to www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/rules


Restrictions across Greater Sydney (including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour) aim to help stop the spread of COVID-19. These restrictions have been introduced to restrict mobility across Greater Sydney in order to stop the spread of the new Delta variant of COVID-19.

The Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Blacktown, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Liverpool and Parramatta are subject to an Authorised Workers Order. Only Authorised Workers in these eight LGAs (the “affected LGAs”) may leave their LGA for work.

The current Public Health Order states that if you live in the affected LGAs you can only leave the local government area you live in to go to work if:

  1. The business is allowed to be open; and
  2. You are an “authorised worker” as defined in the Order and available on the NSW Government website (Authorised workers | NSW Government).

All people who reside within the affected LGAs must wear a mask at all times when outside of their home, regardless of whether they are an authorised worker or not.

The heating, ventilation, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVAC&R) industry is not currently included on the authorised workers list, and as a result any workers within the HVAC&R industry who reside in one of the affected LGAs above are not permitted to leave their LGA for work purposes.

Please note that the list of “authorised workers” applies to types of worker based on industry segments and exemptions are not being provided to individuals.

The “authorised worker” list is subject to change. Please regularly check the list on the NSW Government website here: Authorised workers | NSW Government for changes that may affect your industry.

However, within any areas restricted such as per the current restrictions for the affected LGAs beyond, the Order permits works in certain urgent or critical situations.

Specifically, works on residential (occupied) premises in the affected LGAs are not permitted unless:

  1. The work is urgently required
    • To ensure the health, safety or security of the premises or the members of the household
    • Because of an emergency
  2. The work is
    • For the installation, maintenance or repair of an essential utility, including a water, gas, electricity, internet, television or telecommunication service
    • For fire, protection and safety
  3. Work is the cleaning or carrying out of repairs or maintenance at an unoccupied place of residence where it is necessary for the sale or lease of the place of residence.

Where repairs or maintenance works is required for the health or safety of the members of the household, the works would be covered under the current Order under point 1 above. Those works would therefore be permitted to be completed now, and an exemption would not be required, provided that the work and associated movement does not contravene any other NSW Government directions. Any additional works (including non-urgent work) that do not fall under the above categories are not permitted to be carried out under the current NSW Government directions. Further detail on exceptions for occupied residential works in affected LGAs, including examples of work that is and isn’t allowed please visit: Renovations, repairs, maintenance, and cleaning | NSW Government.

In relation to work on construction sites in the affected LGAs, works will remain closed unless the work is urgently required for the following purposes:

  1. To ensure the safety or security of the construction site
  2. To deal with environmental risks
  3. To maintain and ensure the integrity of critical plant, equipment or assets, including partially completed works, that would otherwise deteriorate
  4. To receive deliveries of supplies that would otherwise deteriorate
  5. To maintain public utilities
  6. To ensure the safe operation of existing transport infrastructure
  7. By or on behalf of NSW Health in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
  8. Because of an emergency.

Therefore on construction sites if the proposed works are covered by any of the points above, the works may be completed immediately and an exemption is not required. However, any work which exceeds those purposes outlined above is not permitted under the current restrictions. Additionally, the work and associated movement must not contravene any other NSW Government directions. Further detail on exceptions for works in affected LGAs, including examples of work that is and isn’t allowed please visit: Greater Sydney rules sections for renovations and construction.

Additionally, if a business is permitted to remain open and they are located within one of the affected LGAs, if they require repairs of refrigerators, air-conditioning or heating and cooling, the works are permitted to proceed.

Importantly, if works continue within one of the affected LGAs on residential premises or construction sites based on the urgent or critical parameters outlined above or for repairs required at a business permitted to remain open, note that workers/businesses/residents may be required to present further documentation/evidence to support their decision to complete those works. Additionally, rules on workers within the affected LGAs still apply, noting that workers residing or temporarily staying within an affected LGAs would be able to complete works under these exceptional circumstances within their LGA only, even if they are not authorised workers.

Further, on Wednesday, 28 and Thursday 29 July 2021 the NSW Government announced a number of changes to the current Public Health Order, which resumed construction activities and trade services under certain circumstances from Saturday 31 July.  A summary of those changes is provided at the end of this email to outline the circumstances in which works can be completed both in occupied residential premises and on construction sites in Greater Sydney, excluding the affected LGAs.

Finally, the NSW Government has also introduced the 2021 COVID-19 Support Package to support industries affected by COVID-19 restrictions. For more information on these measures, including how to apply for support, visit 2021 COVID-19 Support Package.  If AIRAH Members have any further questions about the support available, they should can contact Service NSW 24/7 online or on 13 77 88.

We thank you for your patience and continued support to help stop the spread of COVID‑19 in the community.

As an overview, the below are a list of changes to the Order announced Wednesday 28 and Thursday 29 July 2021.

Changes effective from Thursday 29 July 2021:

  • Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Parramatta, Campbelltown and Georges River will join the existing five LGAs of concern (Cumberland, Fairfield, Liverpool, Canterbury-Bankstown, Blacktown) which are subject to an Authorised Workers Order. Only Authorised Workers in these eight LGAs (the “affected LGAs”) may leave their LGA for work.

Changes effective from Saturday, 31 July 2021:

Occupied residential premises

  • Cleaning, maintenance, repairs, alterations, additions to buildings and other trades for (“works”) carried out at residential premises within Greater Sydney (excluding the affected LGAs) will be able to be carried out subject to:
    • No contact between occupiers and workers
    • Limits of 2 workers for indoor and 5 workers for outdoor
    • If contactless arrangements are not possible, work cannot go ahead.
  • Works on residential premises prior to Saturday 31 July OR in the affected LGAs after that date are not permitted unless:
    • the work is urgently required
      • to ensure the health, safety or security of the premises or the members of the household
      • because of an emergency
    • the work is
      • for the installation, maintenance or repair of an essential utility, including a water, gas, electricity, internet, television or telecommunication service
      • for fire, protection and safety
    • work is the cleaning or carrying out of repairs or maintenance at an unoccupied place of residence where it is necessary for the sale or lease of the place of residence.
  • Further detail on exceptions for works in affected LGAs, including examples of work that is and isn’t allowed please visit: Renovations, repairs, maintenance, and cleaning | NSW Government
  • Workers who reside in one of the affected LGAs are not permitted to leave their LGA to carry out any of these construction works as they are not exempt as “authorised workers”. However, if they reside in the same affected LGA as the property (for urgent works covered by the points above only) they can proceed with the works even if they are not an authorised worker. The exemptions can be found on the “Authorised workers list”, available on the NSW Government website (Authorised workers | NSW Government).
  • Please be aware the business owner must ensure as limited mobility of its workers as is reasonably possible when carrying out this authorised work and ensure COVID safe protocols are in place at all times and continue to monitor nsw.gov.au for updates and information.

Construction sites including non-occupied residential constructions

  • Work can commence on construction sites subject to the completion of a COVID-19 Safety Plan for each site in Greater Sydney
    • These sites must have COVID safe plans in place, compliance will be strictly enforced
    • Preparatory works may be conducted onsite from Thursday 29 July 2021 including safety work, site preparation, relocating plant or equipment, checking or maintaining installations or equipment and delivery of materials and equipment
  • Work on construction sites prior to Saturday 31 July OR in the affected LGAs will remain closed unless the work is urgently required for the following purposes:
    1. To ensure the safety or security of the construction site
    2. To deal with environmental risks
    3. To maintain and ensure the integrity of critical plant, equipment or assets, including partially completed works, that would otherwise deteriorate
    4. To receive deliveries of supplies that would otherwise deteriorate
    5. To maintain public utilities
    6. To ensure the safe operation of existing transport infrastructure
    7. By or on behalf of NSW Health in response to the COVID-19 pandemic
    8. Because of an emergency.
  • Further detail on exceptions for works in affected LGAs, including examples of work that is and isn’t allowed please visit: Greater Sydney rules sections for renovations and construction
  • Workers who reside in one of the Affected LGAs are not permitted to leave their LGA to carry out any of these construction works as they are not exempt as “authorised workers”. However, if they reside in the same affected LGA as the property (for urgent works covered by the points above only) they can proceed with the works even if they are not an authorised worker. The exemptions can be found on the “Authorised workers list”, available on the NSW Government website (Authorised workers | NSW Government).
  • Please be aware the business owner must ensure as limited mobility of its workers as is reasonably possible when carrying out this authorised work and ensure COVID safe protocols are in place at all times and continue to monitor nsw.gov.au for updates and information.

Changes to surveillance testing:

  • All authorised workers from Canterbury-Bankstown LGA must get tested once every three days in order to leave their LGA for work.
  • People who live in the Fairfield and Cumberland LGAs but work outside these areas as health or aged care workers (including support services for health or aged care, such as cleaners, cooks and security providers) must be tested once every three days in order to be allowed to go to work outside their LGA.  
  • These surveillance testing requirements will be enforceable from Saturday, 31 July. However, relevant workers will have from Wednesday, 28 July to get their first test.

In addition, businesses which are critical to the construction supply chain will be permitted to continue operations if they are located within an affected LGA, and their workers have been added to the authorised worker list (Authorised workers | NSW Government).

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