Effective from midnight Saturday 4 April, the Queensland Government closed the state’s borders to interstate fly-in fly-out (FIFO) workers, unless these workers are critical to a project’s operations. In an effort to protect remote and regional communities and local mine workforces, only critical interstate FIFO mine workers are now allowed into Queensland. “As all resources ministers around the country have said, the resources sector is essential to maintaining a strong Australian economy,” Mines Minister Dr Anthony Lynham said. “It is critical that we move now to prevent people who may have been exposed to the virus bringing it to Queensland.”
The ban exempts workers critical to operations, including those holding statutory positions specified in legislation. Statutory positions include people responsible for worker health and safety. The changes do not affect FIFO or drive-in drive-out (DIDO) workers travelling from within Queensland. A full list of statutory positions can be found on the Queensland Health website. “Queensland has no known cases in our remote regional communities, and restricting these workers from entering the state will remove a possible transmission route,” Dr Lynham said. “Exempting critical people will ensure that resources projects can continue to produce the mineral and energy resources we need. Most importantly, these critical people will ensure projects operate safely for the workers onsite.”
Dr Lynham also said that most of Queensland’s resources companies had already stepped up their procedures in response to the pandemic. “Government has been working with industry for some time on protective measures. All resources projects in Queensland are providing a COVID plan for their interstate workers to Queensland Health, and have been requested to prepare plans for their intrastate workers,” Dr Lynham said. The Chief Health Officer has already sought extra precautions in camps and those on the move, such as FIFO and DIDO. Extra protection in camps includes infection control in kitchens and food preparation areas, suitable accommodation for self-quarantine and maintaining social distancing, including for recreational activities such as outdoor sport.
Additional protective measures include limiting movement of workers from camps and into the broader community, no more ‘hot bedding’ to limit contact between employees and cleaning each room thoroughly between uses, including changing and washing linen. Avoiding close contact during transport is also encouraged, alongside reducing the numbers of people travelling on buses and aircraft. Thorough cleans between passengers embarking and disembarking are also encouraged to provide further protection on transport, along with temperature testing at airports for passengers boarding aircraft. People experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 must not travel, and must immediately isolate and seek medical advice.
Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Yakobchuk Olena