The leader of Victoria’s COVID-19 reaction has slapped construction workers to block Melbourne streets in protest of new restrictions on tea rooms.
Thousands of workers lined up plastic chairs and tables in the middle of Lonsdale Street in Melbourne’s CBD for their morning smoke break on Friday, forcing the cancellation of trams nearby.
Similar protests also took place on Collins Street and Elizabeth Street in the city center as well as in Brunswick, Coburg, Kew, Parkville, South Yarra and Richmond during the morning and at lunchtime.
The roads are now cleared.
The action comes after the Victorian government imposed tough restrictions on industry, with 13 percent of the state’s active COVID-19 cases linked to transmission at construction sites.
From 23.59 on Friday, tea rooms in places will be closed and food and drink will no longer be consumed indoors, while travel between Melbourne and the regions for work will be banned.
At the same time on September 23, all construction workers must show their employer proof that they have received their first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.
Limited medical exemptions will apply in accordance with the vaccination mandate for elderly carers.
Victorian State Association Secretary John Setka said the decision to close tea rooms was “terrible” and was taken without consulting the CFMEU.
“It’s not really a protest,” he told Friday on 3AW radio about the smoko stand-off.
“What they decided was, ‘If we can not sit in the smokehouse, where do we have our break?’. So they have taken all the tables and chairs out into the fresh air.
“They have nowhere else to have their smoko.”
But Victoria’s COVID-19 commander Jeroen Weimar said there was a “significant risk of transmission” in tea rooms.
“People are bending backwards to keep the construction industry going and keeping important places going for important reasons. Please do not,” he said.
“We must all be humble about this and acknowledge the privileges that we who are still able to work can have. If you can not sit next to your peers and have a sandwich, it does not look like to be a great burden to bear. “
Opposition spokesman Tim Smith said the construction industry had been “treated abysmally like any other industry has been during this whole pandemic”.
“You have now got the CFMEU as part of the Labor Party to protest against this Labor government because they are being treated as badly as the rest of society,” he said.
Prime Minister Daniel Andrews said on Thursday that the tightened restrictions were supported by health advice and designed to keep the construction industry open at its 25 per cent. Workforce.
The industry was warned earlier this week that it was at risk of losing its authorized work status amid the launch of an enforcement and vaccination flash.
In NSW, the entire construction industry was shut down for two weeks as cases escalated.