COVID-19 restrictions clarified for HVAC&R workers

Since new COVID-19 restrictions came into force in New South Wales, those employed in the HVAC&R industry have been seeking clarity on whether they can continue working. Although considered by many as an essential service, HVAC&R is not explicitly referred to in the rules.

The NSW government guidance for critical repairs, maintenance and cleaning states that services cannot be provided to residential premises in the Greater Sydney region, including the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Wollongong and Shellharbour. Exceptions are made for the installation, maintenance and repairs of “essential utilities” including water, gas, electricity, internet, television, telecommunications services, fire protection and safety. There is no mention of heating or cooling.

Local HVAC&R businesses working in the residential sector have raised concerns that they are receiving urgent calls to repair heating systems, and are not sure whether they are allowed to attend premises under the restrictions.

Advice has now come from the office of NSW Minister for Health and Medical Research Brad Hazzard.

“Whilst ‘a person is not authorised to visit a place of residence to engage in work that is cleaning or carrying out repairs, maintenance, alterations, additions or other trades at the place of residence’, such work is permissible if ‘urgently required to ensure the health, safety or security of the place of residence or the members of the household’,” reads the advice.

“Given we are in the middle of winter, common sense would say that adequate heating would be urgently required to ensure the health of the members of the household.”

Meanwhile, in Victoria, the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions has indicated that where commercial and industrial heating, ventilating, and air conditioning providers are themselves providing services, maintaining systems or fixing systems for businesses that are on the authorised provider list, they will be permitted to continue to operate.

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