Updated 4.15pm (AEST) 21 April 2020
A number of State and Territory Governments have signed directions under emergency laws giving effect to various border control measures. AMMA members requiring to move employees between states must closely familiarise themselves with the specific requirements of each of the states and territories in which they operate.
While all of these directions include exemptions for resources and energy employees travelling interstate between home and their workplaces, some states / territories have introduced much tighter border controls.
Given border control measures are rapidly changing, AMMA will update this webpage daily to ensure it reflects “current state” border controls put in place by the various states and territories.
For further advice and support contact your nearest AMMA office.
Note: National Cabinet flags broad exemptions for maritime crew
AMMA is presently consulting with various state and territory governments to gain clarity on possible broad exemptions for maritime crew required to travel interstate to board vessels. Given the unique nature of the industry, the treatment of resource sector maritime crew has been a particularly sensitive issue for AMMA and its members.
This follows a statement being issued by the COVID-19 National Cabinet (comprising the Prime Minister and Premiers from each state and territory) regarding “updated quarantine arrangements for non-cruise maritime and air crew”.
While this statement is a positive indication, members should note that as of 14 April 2020 no state or territory has issued or amended their official travel directions to reflect easier movement of maritime crew around the country. Until they do, maritime crew will continue to be subject to the existing travel directions summarised below.
Designated Areas” (remote Indigenous communities)
On 26 March 2020 the Australian Government issued the Biosecurity (Human Biosecurity Emergency) (Human Coronavirus with Pandemic Potential) (Emergency Requirements for Remote Communities) Determination 2020.
The legislation intends to protect remote Indigenous communities by making it a requirement that people self-isolate for 14 days prior to entering a “designated area”. A number of designated areas are listed in the legislation, located in Western Australia, Queensland, South Australia and the Northern Territory.
Part 1 of the legislation, under “Definitions”, includes as persons exempt from these requirements those engaged in “essential services” which includes mining, oil and gas, ancillary operations and involved in transporting crew for these services.
AMMA members seeking to move essential employees through a designated area should review the requirements and exemptions carefully.
The legislation can be found here.
The relevant Minister’s statement can be found here.
From 11.59pm Sunday 5 April, the Western Australian border is closed to all people travelling to the state, unless an exemption has been granted.
The Western Australian Government issued the new Quarantine (Closing the Border) Directions under the Emergency Management Act 2005 (WA) giving effect to the border closure on Sunday 5 April and has replaced all previous directions regarding self-quarantine requirements.
Importantly, a person who arrives in WA and who is not an exempt traveller may be direct to leave WA.
Relevant to AMMA members, the following persons are ‘exempt travellers’ and may continue to arrive in WA:
- any person responsible for provision of transport, freight or logistics services into or out of WA, but this does not include maritime crew;
- specialists required for industry or business continuity and maintenance of competitive operation where the service is time critical;
- a FIFO worker (being persons who travel interstate for work according to an established work schedule), provided the person undertakes 14 days of self-isolation on arrival in WA (at the employer’s expense) at a location agreed with the State Emergency Coordinator;
- persons approved by the State Emergency Coordinator in writing (this provision expressly contemplates the approval of categories of maritime crews as a category of exempt person).
Penalties for failing to comply with the Directions include imprisonment for up to 12 months, or a fine of up to $50,000 for individuals or $250,000 for corporations.
Travellers believing they fall into an exempt category can submit an approval form at this link.
Bulk applications for exempt travellers
The Western Australian Government is launching a streamlined system for employers and travellers to receive an exemption under the State’s travel restrictions. The online system is expected to be available in mid-April. Once the website is available AMMA will provide a link here.
For employers with large numbers of employees needing to cross various travel restriction boundaries there is a Bulk Application process.
WA members requiring streamlined / bulk applications should contact [email protected].
Maritime Crew entering Western Australia
On 8 April 2020 the Western Australian Government issued a specific direction for maritime crew seeking approval to be exempted from the state’s travel ban under Paragraph 27 (r) of the “Closing the Border” direction.
This document provides written approval to maritime crew to be considered exempt from the original travel direction provided a number of conditions are met.
Most notably, persons entering Western Australia from another state or territory to become crew members are required to be quarantined in a “crew hotel” for 14 days prior to boarding a vessel.
On 10 April 2020, the Queensland Government issued an updated direction in accordance with emergency powers arising from the declared public health emergency, closing the borders to all people entering the state, unless they are an exempt person.
From 12.01am Saturday 11 April “an employee of a resources sector company or service provider is only an exempt person if they are a critical resources sector employee who is:
- required to be appointed under the relevant mining health and safety legislation (this includes statutory positions such as site senior executives, ventilation officers, engineering managers and site safety managers who are responsible for worker health and safety;) or
- have been approved by the Chief Health Officer as a critical resources sector employee.
Further, the Queensland Government is now requiring that resources sector employees travelling into the state provide the following information upon their arrival:
- the name of their employer
- evidence that they are a fly in fly out worker
- evidence that they are entering Queensland to go directly to work
- evidence of the location of the worksite or work camp
- if they are a resources sector employee, evidence that they are a critical resources sector employee
Employers also have to provide a health plan that complies with requirements set by the Chief Health Officer that ensures adequate hygiene and safety requirements to limit the transmission of COVID-19.
The South Australian Government signed the updated “Cross Border Travel No.3 Direction” under the Emergency Management Act 2004 (SA) on 16 April 2020.
Notable points for AMMA members:
- There is an exemption for FIFO workers entering the State for work purposes
- Employees must carry photo ID to show border control staff
- Employers should provide employees with an exemption letter detailing their name, working dates, transit path and work location to show to border control staff as required
- Exploration activities do not satisfy criteria for exempt workers
- Companies should provide SA Health with a health management plan on prevention controls
For more information, visit the South Australian Government website.
The Northern Territory Chief Health Officer signed the updated “CHO Directions (No. 22) 2020 Directions for Territory Border Restrictions ” under the Public and Environmental Health Act 2011 on 17 April 2020.
Notable points for AMMA members:
- FIFO workers are exempt from 14 day isolation and need to complete an Arrivals Card
- Workers do not need to apply for an exemption if they fall within the exemption categories
- Employers should provide employees with an exemption letter justifying their status as an essential traveller
- Companies must also provide a health management plan to the Chief Health Officer
For more information, visit the Northern Territory Government website.
On 20 March 2020 the Tasmanian Government declared a state of emergency and issued a directive under the Public Health Act 1997 to effectively close its borders from the mainland. Any travellers entering the state must quarantine themselves for 14 days.
Notable points for AMMA members:
- All travellers arriving in to Tasmania must complete a Tasmanian Arrivals Form
- Resource sector employees are exempted from the 14 days quarantine but must travel directly to site.
- People living in Tasmania but working on the mainland must quarantine themselves when they ar home for 14 days or until they are due to return to work
For more information, including the relevant forms and requirements, visit the Tasmanian Government website.
Template: Exemption letter for all states and territories
AMMA has prepared, for the general use of its members, a template letter to provide FIFO employees to assist with their interstate travel to and from work during the COVID-19 travel restrictions enacted by various state and territory governments.
AMMA members may use this letter as they see fit, to assist with documentation to be held on the person of any resources and energy sector FIFO employees travelling between states / territories.
Important note: the exemption letter will not on its own satisfy the strict border control measures put in place by Western Australia and Queensland. Further processes, provision of evidence and applications for permits / exemptions may apply. AMMA will keep this template letter available until more states and territories begin formally implementing their stricter policies.
Download the template here.