COVID-19 updates

    6 April 2020

    Agriculture declared an essential service

    Australia’s entire primary production system has been declared essential as we face the challenges of COVID-19.

    This was confirmed by the Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, the Hon. David Littleproud MP, on 25 March 2020 and by all states and territories.

    The primary production system covers agriculture and all agricultural input industries including crop protection, seeds, fertilizer, GM crop products, feed, fodder, the ag supply retail distribution network, transport, logistics, packaging, labelling and the movement of ag-related workers across state borders.

    View CropLife’s official statement here.

    View CropLife’s media statement here.

     

    State and territory border closures and lockdown

    All state/territory governments have acknowledged that ag and ag input industries are essential. However, there are now much tighter restrictions applying to workers who are eligible for exemption under the critical workers category.

    CropLife is continuing to actively engage with the Federal and all state governments along with our key industry partners to see if more functional requirements for exempted workers in agriculture can be accommodated, especially between NSW and Victoria.

     

    NSW / Victoria Border restrictions

    Returning NSW residents 

    NSW residents returning from Victoria must now go immediately into mandatory hotel quarantine for 14 days at their own expense. All returning NSW residents, unless they live within the NSW border regions, will only be allowed to return to NSW through Sydney airport and will require a NSW border entry permit.

     

    Border communities 

    There is no change to the existing arrangements in place for border communities.

    If you live in a border region and provide a critical service in a border region you must:

    (a) for a Victorian resident – self-isolate except when providing the critical service, and
    (b) for a NSW resident – self-isolate except when providing a critical service, unless the NSW resident self-isolated while in Victoria when not providing the critical service.

     

    Critical Services

    Following considerable advocacy efforts, farmers, contractors and those employed in the agriculture sector will again be able to enter New South Wales from Victoria without first flying to Sydney.

    To enter, workers must be issued with a ‘Highly Specialised Critical Services (Agriculture) Permit’. The Permit currently limits holders to a distance of 100km, however the NSW Minister for Agriculture is looking to further relax this in the coming week. If the worker is overnighting in NSW, they must self-isolate – ideally on the property they are working at.

    CropLife will continue to work with VFF, NSW Farmers, NFF and other key stakeholders to secure more practical arrangements for critical ag workers, to ensure CropLife member companies are not unnecessarily impacted by the border requirements.

    Read Minister Marshall’s full statement here.

     

    Transport and freight 

    If you provide a critical service that consists of the movement of freight or persons on a commercial basis you must:

    (a) for the movement of freight on a commercial basis—comply with the relevant COVID-19 Safety Plan at all times, or

    (b) for the movement of persons on a commercial basis—self-isolate
    except when providing the critical service.

    There are issues that the industry is encountering when progressing through the application process. These concerns have been directly raised with relevant government officials and we will provide an update as soon as possible.

    For more information about the border entry rules see the guide to border restrictions or visit the NSW Government website.

     

    NSW / Queensland border restrictions 

    Queensland’s Chief Health Officer has declared all of Victoria, New South Wales and the Australian Capital Territory as COVID-19 hotspots.

    People who have been in a COVID-19 hotspot within the last 14 days will no longer be able to quarantine in Queensland and will be turned away at the border, with the exception of people needed in Queensland for essential activities.

    If you have been in a declared COVID-19 hotspot, you can only enter Queensland if you travel by air, unless you are:

    • a truck driver
    • a worker related to the transport of freight and logistics
    • performing an essential activity
    • a border zone resident

    Any person entering Queensland (including Queensland residents) must complete a Queensland Border Declaration Pass prior to entering, including freight transport drivers who were previously exempt.

    Changes have also been made to who is classed as providing an essential activity, but include the following:

    • National and state security and government employees
    • Health and emergency services
    • Transport, freight and logistics

    Specialist workers required to provide a service in the following industries or sectors essential to the continuing running of Queensland:

    • Construction and construction of transport infrastructure
    • Manufacturing
    • resources, critical resources sector employees only
    • Agribusiness or commercial fishing (but not seasonal workers, unless they are moving to Queensland and meet the requirements for new residents)
    • Emergency services
    • infrastructure, or utilities critical for government or government funded services. For example, the continuity of electricity and power, telecommunications, data, transport infrastructure, water supply, sewerage, sanitation and waste and recycling management, petroleum, gas mining and resource operations and farming and agricultural operations.

    A list of requirements that need to be met by specialist workers is available on this page, as is a list of the evidence that specialist workers will need to provide when entering Queensland.

    Border zone residents living along the Queensland NSW Border can cross the border for any purpose however, NSW border zone residents cannot travel outside the border zone in either Queensland or New South Wales.

    In addition to a Border Declaration Pass, residents will also need to provide proof that they live in a border zone. This proof can include a driver’s licence or another document that contains their address.

    Visit the Queensland Government website for more information and to apply for a Queensland Border Declaration Pass, or complete the Queensland entry process checklist to check your eligibility ad what quarantine conditions may apply.

     

    Changes to the South Australian Cross-Border Directive

    South Australia’s Cross-Border Travel Directive will change, effective from 12.01am Friday 21 August. Under the new direction cross border community members crossing the Victorian border will have their essential travellers status suspended. Under the changes, those with a Cross-Border Community Member exemption WILL NOT be able to enter South Australia from Victoria for the purpose of education, employment, receiving or giving care, or obtaining supplies.

    Cross border community members wishing to enter South Australia will be required to re-apply under another essential traveller category. Changes are due to the increased cases of COVID-19 in regional Victoria and is to protect the regional and wider South Australian community. The New South Wales cross border arrangements remain unchanged.

    NSW / South Australia border restrictions

    Essential travellers living in cross border communities can still enter South Australia, however, they cannot travel further than 50 kilometres over the border into South Australia.

    Essential travellers in categories defined as commercial transport and freight, remote and isolated workers or cross border community members who are approved to enter SA must obtain a test as soon as practicable within seven days of entering SA, but can still travel across the border into SA once within this period.

    They must produce evidence of having a COVID-19 test, or a COVID-19 test result, that is not more than seven days old, upon request from an Authorised Officer (e.g. SA Police Officer). Self-quarantine restrictions may still apply.

    All other essential travellers (other than those mentioned above or passing through) are required to have the mandatory COVID-19 testing on day 1 and 12 of entry into SA. See the Essential Traveller Table for a summary of the requirements for essential travellers for entry into South Australia.

    Essential traveller categories include:

    • National and state security and governance
    • Emergency service workers
    • Commercial transport and freight services
    • Remote or isolated workers
    • Cross border community members
    • Health services
    • Specialist workers in essential sectors
    • Urgent medical, dental or health treatment
    • Passing through
    • Compassionate grounds
    • Exemption provided by SA Health
    • Foreign diplomatic or consular staff.

    If you are an essential traveller, you will need to provide evidence in your cross-border travel registration form, and the application process will determine your eligibility and your requirements for entry.

    All non-essential travellers will be required to:

    • self-quarantine for 14 days after entering SA
    • submit for COVID-19 testing on the first day of entry to SA and the twelfth day of arrival.

    The Government of South Australia’s website has more information on both cross border travel and travel restrictions, and you can complete your Cross Border Travel Registration on the South Australian Police website.

     

    NSW / ACT border restrictions

    Travelling to the ACT from NSW – ACT Government is strongly advising anyone who has been in locations identified by NSW Health on the specified dates to quarantine immediately and get tested for COVID-19 as soon as possible – even if you do not have any symptoms.

    If you get a negative test result, you need to stay in quarantine for the full 14 days from your visit. Please contact ACT Health through the COVID-19 Helpline on (02) 6207 7244 for support through your quarantine period.

    People who have recently visited the local government areas of Fairfield, Campbelltown and Liverpool, are advised not to visit or work in high-risk settings, including aged care facilities and hospitals, for a period of 14 days after leaving these areas.

    There is no requirement for these people to quarantine.

    For more information, visit the ACT Government COVID-19 website.

     

    Northern Territory border restrictions

    Strict border restrictions apply to all access points to the Northern Territory, and the Northern Territory Government strongly urges anyone intending to travel to the NT from an identified coronavirus hotspot to reconsider their plans.

    All arrivals into the Northern Territory from a declared COVID-19 hotspot must complete a 14 day mandatory supervised quarantine period at their own cost of $2500 per person.

    Anyone planning on traveling to the Northern Territory must complete a Border Entry Form no more than 72 hours prior to arrival, and must carry a printed copy of the form with them on arrival at the border.
    Visit the Northern Territory Government website for more information.

     

    Western Australia border restrictions

    Strict border controls are in place, and you cannot enter Western Australia unless you are an exempt traveller. If you meet the criteria outlined in the Quarantine (Closing the Border) Directions, you may apply for an exemption via G2G PASS.
    The exempt traveller categories include:

    • National and State security and governance
    • Health services
    • Transport, freight and logistics
    • Person employed or engaged in agriculture, food production or primary industry that requires them to be physically in WA other than FIFO workers
    • Specialist skills not available in Western Australia
    • FIFO employees who are not specialists and their families
    • Emergency service workers
    • Courts, tribunals and commissions
    • Entry approved on compassionate grounds, to comply with a court order or on a residential facility ground

    Most people who enter WA must complete 14 full days of quarantine, unless there are exceptional circumstances. Except in cases of extreme hardship, quarantine at a quarantine hotel is at an individual’s own expense.

    All people entering WA are asked to bring their own masks, including essential workers with an exemption to enter WA. It is your responsibility to ensure you have and wear a mask when working in WA.

    For more information visit the Western Australia Government website or G2G PASS.

     

    Tasmanian border restrictions 

    Border restrictions in Tasmania are based on the locations travellers have spent time in during the 14 days prior to their arrival in Tasmania.  All travellers to Tasmania are required to provide travel details on arrival. The most effective way of doing this is via the G2G PASS system.

    Essential Traveller applications seeking an exemption from quarantine must be submitted as part of registering to travel to Tasmania.

    For up to date information on border restrictions and travelling to Tasmania, refer to the Tasmanian Government coronavirus page for travellers and visitors.

     

    Freight Movement Code for the Domestic Border Controls – Freight Movement Protocol

    National Cabinet recently endorsed the Freight Movement Code for the Domestic Border Controls – Freight Movement Protocol. View the protocol here. The measures outlined in the Code will be enforceable in each state and territory that implements border controls, unless specified.
    The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator (NHVR) is encouraging all operators to begin implementing additional measures within their business as soon as possible as outlined in the protocol.

    Current SA border requirements are already in line with the Code and include:

    • A valid border permit or equivalent approval
    • Carrying and using COVID-19 related Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
    • An appropriate face mask – view information on appropriate face masks here.
    • Evidence that a COVID-19 test has been carried out within a period no less than 7 days since the time of arrival into a state
    • Record keeping for contact tracing purposes to be kept and retained
    • Effective self-isolation where practicable when not working

    For heavy vehicle testing sites, check the NHVR Map here. SA Pathology’s mobile collection services provides free COVID-19 testing for interstate truck drivers and interstate travellers requiring swabs. No booking required.

    The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator – Updates on border restrictions and testing requirements

    The National Heavy Vehicle Regulator website provides up to date information on COVID border entry requirements for freight and transport drivers across Australia. View the website here.

     

    Keep up with technology 

    Stay up to date with official information and advice about the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation with the Coronavirus Australia app (please note this is an information app only and not the COVIDsafe tracking app). You can check your symptoms and get notified when urgent information and updates are published.

    You can also join the Australian Government WhatsApp channel for COVID-19 to learn the latest on Australia’s response to coronavirus.

     

    Mental Health Reminder

    Prioritising our mental wellbeing is an important part of staying healthy. The Government’s Head to Health website is a helpful resource for coping with anxiety and worry about Coronavirus.

     

    Make your workplace COVID Safe 

    You can complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan specific to your industry and register as a COVID Safe business for your respective state(s).

    Some businesses will need to complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan under the public health orders specific to each state, but you can also voluntarily complete one in order to keep your workers and visitors safe.
    Registering your premises as a COVID Safe business is mandatory for some industries and comes with some obligations.
    Visit the relevant COVID Safe businesses webpage for each state.

    NSW
    QLD
    VIC
    SA
    WA
    NT

     

    New Zealand

    New Zealand is at Level 2 of the COVID-19 response alert system, except for Auckland which is in Alert Level 3, until August 16.

    All primary industries and support services can operate with appropriate measures that prevent the spread of COVID-19.

    For more information visit the Agcarm website.

     

    COVID-19 economic packages

    The Commonwealth and all state and territory governments have announced economic stimulus packages. You can find all the information relevant to your business here:

     

    Free offerings for Australian business continuity

    The Australian Information Industry Association with the support of the Federal Government has released a series of free service offerings, advice and tools designed to support Australian business continuity using technology.

    This support includes a range of remote communications, collaboration, workforce management and video conferencing solutions. It is available online.

     

    OGTR operations

    The OGTR is operating as usual. Companies planning to send in applications should do so and the applications they are currently assessing will continue as planned.

    While some of the team at the OGTR are working remotely, they have the necessary systems in place to continue their work. They ask that during this time, rather than writing to individual officers, you use the online forms and ogtr@health.gov.au or ogtr.applications@health.gov.au email addresses.

    More information is available online.

     

    APVMA operations

    In accordance with social distancing policy, the APVMA have staff working from both the Armidale and Canberra offices and remotely. Many of their staff have significant experience working remotely and do so seamlessly.

    The APVMA has declared that it is committed to maintaining its operations during this time to deliver efficient, effective, timely, and science-based agvet chemical regulation.

    More information is available online.

     

    FarmHub

    FarmHub is a portal that connects Australian farmers to a range of helpful services and support to manage hardship. For more information visit the FarmHub website.

     

    GrainGrowers

    GrainGrowers has released a COVID-19 information guide to assist producers. The guide includes advice about on-farm access to visitors, suggestions for minimising risk across the workforce and planning ahead in relation to chemicals and fertiliser requirements. The information guide can be downloaded here.

     

    Citrus Australia

    Citrus Australia has released a Guide to COVID-19 in the Orchard & Packing Shed.  This guide is an important resource for citrus growers and packers dealing with COVID-19 in the workplace. The guide can be downloaded here.

     

    CropLife office arrangements

    Some members of the CropLife team are working remotely. We remain operational and can be contacted on 02 6273 2733.