COVID-19 and Your Rights at Work

FIFO Travel Update (July 2020)

Keeping fly-in fly-out workers safe during the COVID-19 pandemic has been a key focus for the Australian Workers’ Union.

AWU officials and delegates have been working since day one of the crisis to keep the mining and oil and gas sectors open for business.

Union officials and delegates have worked with governments and with the major employers over the new strict travel restrictions.

The AWU has negotiated new rosters that have kept thousands of people safely working, and secured compensation for workers who have been forced to move interstate.

There are signs that border restrictions might be easing in Western Australian in the coming weeks, but until then here is the latest information on FIFO.

Contact us if you have questions about how travel restrictions may apply to you and your work.

As a union member we are here to support you in resolving roster and travel issues for FIFO workers impacted by travel restrictions. If you aren’t already a member, join today and make sure you have support if something happens at work.

Prohibition of Travel Directions for FIFO workers

The Australian government has imposed travel restrictions on airfreight and passenger flights in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. State and Territory governments have also put in place restrictions on cross-border travel.

Exemptions are in place for different types of citizens and workers, and there are variations in the exemption categories and processes for seeking an exemption.

Summary impact on FIFO workers

Queensland – only certain FIFO workers will be allowed to enter QLD without having to self-quarantine.
South Australia – only certain FIFO workers will be allowed to enter SA without having to self-quarantine.
Western Australia – FIFO workers will not be allowed into WA without strict mandatory quarantine arrangements, and some intra-state travel between regions also contains restrictions.
Tasmania – only certain FIFO workers will be allowed to enter TAS without having to self-quarantine.
Northern Territory – most FIFO workers will be allowed to enter NT without having to self-quarantine, providing their employer has an approved health management plan.

Jump ahead:

Queensland
South Australia
Western Australia
Tasmania
Northern Territory
Victoria
New South Wales
ACT

State by state restrictions and exemptions

Queensland

From 10 July 2020, any person travelling from New South Wales, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania, the Australian Capital Territory and the Northern Territory may enter Queensland subject to completing and signing a border declaration and undertaking to present for a COVID-19 test if they develop symptoms.

Any person that has been in a declared COVID-19 hotspot during the past 14 days, including Victoria, must not enter Queensland.

The only exceptions (and subject to strict conditions), are:

  • a Queensland resident returning home who will be subject to government directed quarantine
  • a person entering to perform an essential activity listed in the Chief Health Officer’s Border restrictions Direction (No. 8)

a person listed in other limited categories as listed in the Chief Health Officer’s Border restrictions Direction (No. 8).

The latest information on the Queensland travel restrictions can be found in this link here.

South Australia

All people arriving in South Australia from outside the state will be required to self-quarantine for a period of 14 days from the date of their arrival in South Australia.

As of 12:01am Sunday, 29 March 2020, FIFO workers travelling from interstate to South Australia can do so under an exemption which allows for ‘essential travellers’. As a resources sector worker, this means:

  • You are essential to operations
  • You undertake time-critical work
  • You work on-site, and
  • You cannot be temporarily replaced with workers sourced from within South Australia.

Mining, oil and gas production operations and electricity generation and supply in South Australia are considered ‘key industries’.

Employers are encouraged to provide transiting employees an authorization letter stating their name, working dates, transit path and work location to show to border control staff as required. More details can be found here.

Western Australia

You cannot enter Western Australia without an exemption.

Anyone who thinks they meet the criteria outlined in the Quarantine (Closing the Border) Directions may apply for an exemption.

Exemptions apply for:

  • senior government officials in the course of duties
  • members of the Commonwealth Parliament and their staff
  • active military personnel on duty in WA
  • specialist skills not available in WA
  • emergency service workers
  • judicial officers or staff members of a court, tribunal or commission
  • persons carrying out a function under a Commonwealth law
  • health services, when requested by the Chief Health Officer of the Department of Health
  • FIFO workers and their family members
  • urgent and essential medical treatment
  • attending a relative’s funeral or visiting a relative who is critically ill or whose death is imminent
  • transport, freight and logistics (not including airline and maritime crew members)
  • compassionate grounds
  • otherwise seeking approval to enter WA.

Given the serious situation in Victoria, Western Australia’s border with the east coast was further tightened from midnight Friday 10 July (11.59pm Thursday, 9 July).

No one will be allowed into Western Australia if they have been in Victoria in the previous 14 days, unless they meet new exemption requirements.

To enter WA, you must be an exempt traveller. If a person is an exempt traveller who has been in Victoria in the 14 days before entering WA, most will not be permitted to enter WA unless they also get an additional exemption. A person must apply for an additional exemption into Western Australia from Victoria unless they are:

  • certain senior Government Officials
  • certain active military personnel
  • a member of the Commonwealth Parliament or their staff
  • a person carrying out functions under a law of the Commonwealth
  • a person coming to WA at the request of the Chief Health Officer
  • a person responsible for transport freight or logistics

Anyone who is permitted to enter WA who has been in Victoria for the previous 14 days will be required to go to a COVID Clinic for testing on day 11 of their time in Western Australia or at any point when symptoms develop.

For more information on travel restrictions in Western Australia, please see here.

Tasmania

Fly-in, Fly-out workers

If you are a Tasmanian resident returning to Tasmania for a period of leave from work interstate, other than from Victoria, you must quarantine at your residence as per the home quarantine conditions.

If you are required to leave Tasmania to return to work before the end of your 14 day quarantine period, you may do so, but must:

  • transit directly from your primary residence to the port of departure; and
  • maintain hand hygiene and physical distancing during transit.

Victorian travel update

Due to the current outbreak of COVID-19 in Victoria, new Tasmanian border restrictions are in place. These restrictions will occur at Tasmanian borders and apply to people travelling from Victoria:

  • Any visitors who have spent time in Victoria in the 14 days prior to arrival in Tasmania are not permitted to travel to Tasmania. If visitors come from Victoria to Tasmania, they will be turned back.
  • This does not apply to Essential Travellers (Specified Persons) from Victoria, who will still be able to apply to travel to Tasmania for a specified purpose. This is a category of people delivering time critical functions and services to support the Tasmanian community, from health care workers to freight and logistics.
  • Any person granted Essential Traveller status who has spent time in Victoria in the 14 days prior to arrival in Tasmania will be required to wear a face mask and limit their movement when not in the workplace. Read the full Direction regarding persons arriving in Tasmania from Victoria.
  • While Victorians can apply for a compassionate exemption to travel to Tasmania, these exemptions are unlikely to be granted in the short term due to rapidly changing circumstances in Victoria.
  • Tasmanian residents who have spent time in Victoria in the 14 days prior to arrival in Tasmania will be required to quarantine in government-provided accommodation. This includes families with children and fly in, fly out workers.
  • People coming to Tasmania from other jurisdictions are allowed to transit through a Victorian airport or the seaport in Port Melbourne, provided they do so directly (except for obtaining fuel). All other current quarantine requirements remain in place.


Further information relating to travel restrictions in Tasmania can be found here.

Northern Territory

Any ‘non-essential’ traveler arriving in The Northern Territory will be required to enter self-isolation for 14 days.

FIFO workers are exempt under the ‘essential worker’ exemption provided their employer has a plan approved by the Chief Health Officer on how it proposes to manage transmission amongst its employees and prevent transmission to the wider community.

Further information relating to travel restrictions in the Northern Territory can be found here.

Victoria

The Victoria border remains open at the time of writing. The Victoria Government’s advice is that all travellers returning or arriving from overseas must self-isolate for 14 days. They are enforcing lockdowns on non-essential services.

New South Wales

The NSW border remains open at the time of writing. The NSW Government’s advice is that all travellers returning or arriving from overseas must self-isolate for 14 days. They are enforcing lockdowns on non-essential services.

The NSW border is closed to anyone who has been in the state of Victoria in the last 14 days, unless they are a resident from a border community.

Further information on travel restrictions in NSW can be found here.

ACT

Anyone (other than ACT residents) travelling into the ACT from Victoria after Wednesday, 8 July 2020, will be denied entry unless they are granted an exemption. ACT residents will be able to return home, but they will be required to enter quarantine until 14 days after leaving Victoria, and must notify ACT Health of their intention to return.

Further information on travel restrictions in ACT can be found here.

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