Key Issues and updates

ESCALATED VICTORIAN RESTRICTIONS

  • Announced last week, as a result of a rapid increase in active COVID-19 cases in Victoria, the Victorian Government re-escalated metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire to Stage 3 restrictions, which means that residents in these areas must only leave home for: shopping for food and supplies, care and caregiving, exercise, and study and work if you can’t do it from home. Further detail can be found on the DHHS website here.
  • Enforcement of re-escalated Stage 3 restrictions has been particularly vigorous, with a greater focus on police compliance activity for those moving within metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire, or trying to leave or return to these areas. It has been reported that exit and entry from the metropolitan zone has been very slow, especially between Melbourne and Geelong.
  • It has also since been announced that the majority of Victorian school students will return to remote learning for the first six weeks of Term 3, 2020. Premier Andrews’ media release on the matter states: “Onsite supervision will be available for students when they are not able to be supervised at home and no other arrangements can be made – including children whose parents cannot work from home, vulnerable children and children with a disability.”
  • Specific advice on the provisions for Term 3 learning can be found online here.
  • As earlier in the year, workers involved in agriculture and food production are considered essential workers and it is understood this work cannot in most cases be conducted from home.
  • Should any part of the seafood industry experience operational difficulties as a result of these restrictions which you feel have not been adequately provided for by governments, please get in touch directly for discussion.

NSW/VIC BORDER

  • Further to advice provided to industry via direct email last week, a number of refinements to the NSW border permit system have been made as a result of feedback from industry, including coordinated feedback on key issues for agriculture.
  • NSW have progressed some changes to the permit system for critical agricultural workers travelling from Victoria into NSW including removing the need to self-isolate for 14 days on the basis they have a COVID-19 safety plan.
  • The permit system continues to be refined following implementation last week. Please check back with Service NSW regularly to stay up to date.

SA/VIC BORDER

  • The Emergency Management (Cross Border Travel No 7) (COVID-19) Direction 2020 has been revoked and replaced by the Emergency Management (Cross Border Travel No 8) (COVID-19) Direction 2020. This new Direction came into effect at 0001hrs on Thursday 9 July 2020. View the updated FAQs here.
  • Victorian residents, other than Essential Travellers, are not permitted to travel to South Australia. Checkpoints and road-blocks will be set up at all border crossings between SA and VIC.
  • Essential Travellers travelling from Victoria into South Australia must enter via specific roads – see here for full list.
  • The following summarises how the new controls apply to milk tanker operators:
    • Tanker drivers who reside in SA, they can cross into VIC, (as an Essential Traveller -Schedule 1) pick up or deliver milk and return to SA without the need to self-quarantine.
    • Tanker drivers who reside in Vic can cross into SA (as an Essential Traveller -Schedule 2), pick up or deliver milk, and return (immediately) to VIC without the need to self-quarantine. If they remain n SA for any reason other than to collect or deliver milk, they will need to self-quarantine for 14 days.
  • All travellers must continue to use the online pre-approval process prior to travelling to South Australia. SAPOL have advised there are currently delays due to a large number of applications. If travellers do not receive a response before making a journey they should take a copy of their online application and any supporting documentation to the border when travelling and an officer will assess the application at the border.

INTERSTATE BORDERS OVERVIEW

  • New QLD border restrictions are due to come into effect on 10 July. Under this QLD order, people who have been in Victoria within the last 14 days will no longer be able to quarantine in QLD and will be turned away at the border. This does not apply to people needed in QLD for essential purposes (e.g. freight and logistics). The relevant QLD public health order and explanatory information is available here.

Jurisdiction

Pathway to easing restrictions

Border Restrictions

National

Easing of coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions

Australian Department of Health

https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert/coronavirus-covid-19-advice-for-travellers

Vic

Coronavirus: Important information for Victorians

Vic.gov.au

Travel restrictions

NSW

COVID-19: What you need to know

Nsw.gov.au/covid19

Travel and Transport advice

QLD

Coronavirus (COVID-19)

QLD.gov.au

https://www.covid19.qld.gov.au/government-actions/border-closing

Tas

Roadmap to Recovery

Tasmanian Government

https://coronavirus.tas.gov.au/travellers-and-visitors/coming-to-tasmania

SA

Roadmap to Recovery

Government of South Australia

https://www.covid-19.sa.gov.au/restrictions-and-responsibilities/travel-restrictions

WA

COVID-19 coronavirus

WA.gov.au

https://www.wa.gov.au/organisation/department-of-the-premier-and-cabinet/covid-19-coronavirus-travel-advice

ACT

COVID-19

ACT Government

Travellers

 

Travel advice – Australians should be aware there are numerous domestic and international travel restrictions in place. Consult the Smartraveller website and subscribe for updates or call the Coronavirus Health Information Line 1800 020 080 for advice. Coronavirus has now been detected in most  countries. With some quarantine measures in place, and heightened concerns around travel, international air traffic has been impacted. Major airlines have cancelled connections as governments impose strict travel bans. This will affect not only tourism in Australia but could also impact availability of overseas workers. 


Food safety – The U.S. Food and Drug Administration and European Food Safety Authority has confirmed there are no concerns as to the safety of seafood. Nor is there any evidence that food is a likely source or route of transmission of the virus - i.e. Eating seafood did not start the coronavirus epidemic. The CDC believes the origin of the virus is from (live) animal-to-person spread. Many foods were present at the live animal market believed to be at the epicenter of the first outbreak, but it is not suggested that eating products from that market caused the spread. FSANZ is reporting that previous experience with outbreaks of illness due to MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV and other respiratory viruses (e.g. avian influenza) suggest that novel coronavirus may have been transmitted from animals to humans. However, transmission through food is unlikely and there is no evidence of this occurring with novel coronavirus to date.  Investigations to identify the source of the outbreak, the extent of spread of the infection, and mode(s) of transmission are continuing. FSANZ will continue to monitor developments and liaise with the Department of Health, the Department of Agriculture, state and territory health authorities and international counterparts to assess the possibility of foodborne transmission of the virus.

  • For answers on food safety - the National Fisheries Institute in the United States have developed the Seafood Safety and Covid19 website which provides some helpful information, frequently asked questions (with great authoritative references from international food safety authorities) and key messages, all focused on seafood safety and Covid19.

Seafood demand – The impact on seafood demand is broken into three categories - export, domestic retail and domestic food service. 

  • Export demand – as covered below, export demand has been impacted. The global market is currently in lock down. As a result this is impacting on consumer purchases as well supply logistics to these markets.  
  • Domestic retail demand – overall, retail purchases of seafood has seen only modest impacts on domestic demand and supply. Fresh fish sales appear to be on the increase (Atlantic Salmon sales from reports are very strong), likewise tinned and frozen products which is being driven by consumers pantry stocking.
  • Domestic food service demand– the food service sector like export are experiencing major impacts and closures. The food service industry both in Australia and globally are suffering due to restrictions on public gatherings and travel. At present almost half of Australia is in some form of self isolation and restriction on gatherings. Many restaurants and stores have closed, with a few switching to home delivery and takeaway. The length of the disruption will be key when determining the full impact of the virus for the seafood industry.Seafood products normally sold via this chain are seeing huge down turn.

Reputation risk – Given the global extent of the spread and presence in all significant seafood producing regions, there is no elevated risk for the Australian seafood industry or Australian products in particular.


Supply chains – impacts on supply chain have been broken into three categories - export, domestic and import. 

  • EXPORT – reports are very clear that export and freight availability has decreased significantly (up to 70-80% in some areas). This is having a direct impact on export supply. Key markets such as China are the most heavily impacted.

Globally freight has been impacted – both ocean and air. In particular, the Chinese market has seen major impacts. Limited airfreight space is available, but report indicate it is at a premium. China’s ports are slowly returning to normal operations following congestion caused by internal distribution networks being disrupted and labour limitations. However, typically securing shipping space could be arranged in a matter of days, the backlog now means exporters are having to book space well in advance. It could be up to 3 months before this situation resolves assuming the situation continues to improve in China.

Longer term impacts in China – China is one of the world’s largest importer of seafood and seafood products (in particular for Australia Lobster and Abalone) and any significant impact on the Chinese economy is likely to have flow-on effect on import demand for all types of products. China is now reportedly slowly and unevenly returning to normal. This is encouraging as it could minimise the overall impact on the Chinese economy. The quicker the outbreak can be contained, the smaller the impact on overall trade is likely to be.

  • DOMESTIC – reports from producers indicate freight and logistics across Australia appears to be still operating well. Airfreight has been impacted with both major airlines reducing fleet operations. The biggest domestic supply chain issue reported has been on access to groceries and provisions. 
  • IMPORT – reports show minimal impacts have indicated shortages of some goods primarily sourced from China, including some medical supplies, farm equipment (oysters baskets), as well as packaging supplies.

Impact on global commodity prices – It is still too early to speculate on the full effect the Coronavirus will have on export markets. Seafood prices have been impacted across the globe with the imports and exports from China limited. Some trade has all but stopped in some countries, and prices are generally down amid fears and restrictions on movement of consumers. These price revisions are driven by market sentiment, rather than substantiated shifts to demand, however, some prices have not fallen as much as expected. While total volume of exported product has decreased, again primarily driven by China.


Employment impacts – domestically, all businesses are looking at how best to prepare for potential staff with COVID-19. This primarily revolves around improved hygiene and cleaning, working from home (where applicable) through to putting in place isolation periods for key staff to ensure they do not get infected. Key risks identified revolve around staff in remote location or that are at sea for periods of time. 14 day self isolation and quarantine arrangements are also impacting on some businesses with staffing - especially those who are reliant on overseas labour.  


Animal exposure - According to the Australian Veterinary Association, current evidence suggests that the COVID-19 virus has an animal source. However, the current spread of COVID-19 is a result of human to human transmission. However, as of 4 March, the Australian Veterinary Association have advised that Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department has identified a case of Covi-19 in a Pomeranian. It is believed that this is a case of human-to-animal (reverse zoonotic) transmission. At this stage there is no evidence that dogs can play a role in the spread of this human disease, or that they become sick. See World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) FAQs and comprehensive guidance on companion animal exposure.


Cleaning standards - Please find below some information on cleaning standards for Coronavirus provided by the Australian Government Department of Health in response to a member query on what is expected of retailers if there is a direction by a health department to close and clean a store (e.g. if a virus carrier was identified as attending a store, and the advice was to close the store).


The length of time that SARS-COV-2 (which causes COVID-19) survives on inanimate surfaces will vary depending on many factors including the amount of body fluid associated the contamination plus the ambient temperature and humidity of the environment. In general, coronaviruses in droplets do not survive very long on dry surfaces when the droplet of mucus produced by coughing or sneezing dries out.


Because people who sneeze and cough may be present throughout the opening times of the store, frequent cleaning, especially of surfaces and items frequently touched is important. Alcohol-based hand rub stations should be placed liberally around shopping aisles, especially in areas where food stuffs are on display and where frequent touching of produce occurs.


Signs should be considered to ask shoppers to only touch what they intend to purchase. Training staff to encourage use of alcohol-based hand rub as well as coughing and sneezing etiquette should be instituted by company WHS advisors.


The risk when cleaning is not the same as the risk when face to face with a sick person who may be coughing or sneezing.


Cleaning staff should be informed to avoid touching their face, especially their mouth, nose, and eyes when cleaning. Cleaning staff should wear impermeable disposable gloves and a surgical mask plus eye protection while cleaning. Cleaners should use alcohol-based hand rub before and after wearing gloves. Alcohol-based hand rub should also be used after removing the surgical mask and eye protection. The reason for the surgical mask and eye protection, is because even though the virus will not usually become airborne from cleaning, the surgical mask and eye protection acts as a barrier when people inadvertently touch their face with contaminated hands and fingers whether gloved or not.


Simple disinfectants with label claims noting action against viruses can kill the virus making it no longer possible to infect people.


If there is visible body fluid contamination the cleaner should also wear a full-length disposable gown in addition to the surgical mask, eye protection, and gloves. Advice should be sought from your WHS consultants on correct procedures for wearing PPE.