4 June 2020 | QRC COVID-19 Working Group meeting

  • QRC COVID-19 Working Group spoke about the following:
    • QRC is aware of resource companies receiving requests from mayors across the Western Shires and CQ to ease restrictions on workers going into town. There is a desire amongst regional councils to have the patronage of resources companies to stimulate the local economies of towns nearby mine sites.
    • Qantas planning to return to more regular intrastate flight schedule from 12 June. May have implications for charter flights and need for temperature testing of FIFO workers on commercial flights. The new Qantas timetable and Fly Well program details are on the QRC website.
    • Brisbane Airport Corporation encouraging social distancing but not enforcing inside the Brisbane terminal.
    • No social distancing on planes. QRC has asked for clarification on this from the Chief Health Officer.
      • It was noted that clear guidance would be required before any changes to company COVID management plans would be actioned, including reinforcement of need to adhere to COVID 19 community advice.
      • Specific guidance relating to reintegration of FIFO and residential worker crews would also be required.
      • QRC will establish a group to develop some guidance for members on easing some of the industry specific protocols, over the following 4-5 days.
    • In relation to COVID office guidelines QRC :
      • clarified that the advice previously conveyed that companies should have only 25% of staff in an office is not a direction or protocol, but rather an opinion of the Chief Medical Officer.
      • notes ongoing confusion around lift occupancy capacity, and a common sense approach to the 1.5 m distancing should be used.
    • QRC advises that restrictions in Biosecurity Act areas in Queensland are expected to be lifted in the next two weeks.
    • In relation to the Blackwater matter, QRC supported QH using an understandably highly cautious approach. It was disappointing to see the media try to make a connection between what was thought to be a positive COVID diagnosis and the  FIFO workforce.
    • QRC is aware of growing requests for resource workers to return to Queensland from Western Australia. This issue to be further discussed with DNRME.
    • QRC reinforced the need for all resource workers crossing the border to have appropriate approvals in place, including before they travelled interstate from Qld for family reasons.
    • testing locations: QRC expects advice within the next 48 hours as to locations of pathology labs that are able to conduct testing for the sector in the most efficient manner. Companies should liaise directly with pathology companies to obtain testing kits and to arrange sample analysis
      • QRC will advertise this information on the QRC website.
    • Kelly Vea Vea, Isaac Council, requested companies wind back restrictions on worker movement – the same rules should apply if you live in a camp or in the community.
    • Charters Towers Mayor – wants restrictions lifted completely.
    • Breaking down the segregation of FIFO and residential workers was also tested with Councils – thought community would be receptive
    • QRC drew Mayors attention to the expected growth in commercial air travel from airports where social distancing may not be as rigorous as desirable and with commercial travellers not having to undergo temperature testing or completed health questionnaires as is the practice with resource FIFO travellers.
    • Kelly Isaac Council indicated she is happy to discuss with the Council but would like to know the views of the companies so sought a collective view of the group.
    • Charters Towers council advises that all health regulations must be adhered to, but that “the cure cannot be worse than the disease”.
    • QRC will work with members develop a strategy to ease restrictions on workers.