Traffic light system for reopening

Farmers and transporters urge coronavirus roadmap commonsense approach

Coronavirus
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Farmers, transporters part of COVID-19 roadmap planning.

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CRITICAL CROSSROADS: VFF Livestock Group president Leonard Vallance says Victoria's spring lamb processing is at a critical crossroads.

CRITICAL CROSSROADS: VFF Livestock Group president Leonard Vallance says Victoria's spring lamb processing is at a critical crossroads.

Victoria's farmers and the transport industry are urging the state government to ensure their needs are taken into account, ahead of the unveiling of the roadmap to ending coronavirus restrictions.

The state government is on Sunday expected to reveal a four-step traffic light system, for easing Victoria out of its stage three and four coronavirus restrictions.

Victorian Farmers Federation president David Jochinke said half of Victoria's total exports came from the agricultural sector.

"Farmers need assurance that as we approach the spring peak season processors will be able to handle the increased demand and continue to feed Australia," Mr Jochinke said.

"We need abattoirs to be able to increase capacity to process meat, workable restrictions for enclosed spaces like shearing sheds and produce packaging facilities."

Victorian farmers produced 43 per cent of Australia's sheep and lamb meat, 64pc of the country's milk and 32pc of horticultural products.

Premier Daniel Andrews has promised the governmet's roadmap for easing restrictions will e unveiled on Sunday.

It's likely to include the traffic light system, a position confirmed by the Victorian Transport Association.

Chief executive Peter Anderson said he understood COVIDSafe principals would be applied to 10 key sectors when assessing the timing and appropriateness for their reopening.

The government has been in discussion with the ten key industry sectors - construction, creative sport and tourism, manufacturing, agriculture, retail, professional services, transport and freight, food and grocery industries, and community organisations.

The system included red (closed) orange (heavily restricted), yellow (restricted) and green (open with a COVIDSafe Plan).'

COVIDSafe principles the government will use to determine risks include:

1. Physical distancing

2. Mask wearing

3. Practice good hygiene

4. Act quickly if staff become unwell

5. Avoidance of enclosed space interactions

6. Creation of workforce bubbles

Read more:

Australia's spring lamb flush is incoming

Processing uncertainty impacts national lamb yardings

Spring lamb

And the VFF Livestock Group president Leonard Vallance has warned Victoria's spring lamb processing is at a critical crossroads.

Mr Vallance has called for the government to ease processor workforce restrictions as part of Sunday's COVID-19 recovery roadmap.

He said there were concerns about the viability of both processors and producers.

"Farmers have battled bushfire, drought and now COVID-19," Mr Vallance said.

"Many producers were looking forward to one of the best seasons in years, but now face an uncertain immediate future as the spring peak approaches.

"There is an urgent need for a sensible, risk-based approach to evaluating processing facilities."

He said some processing facilities already had the infrastructure and the internal procedure capabilities to implement COVID safe practices.

" We're calling for these facilities to operate at least at 80 per cent capacity to manage the influx of spring lambs," Mr Vallance said.

"The proposed switch from a blanket approach to a risk-based strategy based on individual processing facilities would help provide producers with a level of certainty during the peak season.

"We have producers who receive their yearly pay check from large consignments of lamb in the spring time who are anxiously waiting to see a commitment to work with industry."

Farmers just wanted to continue farming and were confident they could do so in a COVID safe way, Mr Vallance said

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the reopening of the state would be driven by thorough modelling.

"We will, on Sunday, give people a clear road map with as much detail and as much certainty as we can possibly provide,' Mr Andrews said.

"It won't be guided simply by dates on the calendar, though, it will be guided by the science and the data.

"It will be guided by how many cases there are in Victoria and the types of cases."

Transport green light

Mr Anderson said the transport industry had been given a "green light", since day one.

He argued against further restrictions.

"Putting other restrictions on us is only taking us backwards, not forwards," Mr Anderson said.

"We, and farmers, are dealing with people who don't know the industry - every time you have a meeting with the bureaucrats, you have to go back to Transport 101."

The industry had shown its responsibility to the community by not transmitting the virus, in its actual day to day activities.

"The way we have been able to do that is because the industry has taken its responsibilities very seriously, and gone above and beyond to maintain the hygiene and standards the community demands."

He said he was proud the industry had responded in the way it had and was able to display, on a continually consistent basis, it had taken the pandemic seriously.

"Not only should we continue to have a green light, we should be resisting and restrictions on the supply chain - without the supply chain, people don't get food, clothes or the goods they need to survive; not just to live, but to survive, that's what it is for a lot of people."

While the VTA did not have the deciding vote, the industry would be campaigning for acknowledgement for the work it had done.

"There should be no more impairment on the industry, as the cases start to diminish," Mr Anderson said.

"Putting other restrictions on us is only taking us backwards, not forwards.

"We, and farmers, are dealing with people who don't know the industry - every time you have a meeting with the bureaucrats, you have to go back to Transport 101.

"We don't want impertinent generalisations for directions, what we want is specific structures, to ensure we are meeting all our obligations."

He proposed a simple tracking system, such as a red dot on a work diary, where drivers could quickly note when they came into contact with another person.

"If it means there's an issue, we can trace back really quickly - its not a hard instruction to follow."

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The story Traffic light system for reopening first appeared on Stock & Land.

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