ACT Health has begun spot checks at construction sites this week after tightened its restrictions on workers attempting to enter the territory, following a positive case of coronavirus recorded at a Goulburn site on Tuesday.
A painter who worked on the Goulburn Hospital's $125 million redevelopment project while infected with COVID-19 on July 10, has left health authorities scrambling to determine whether there are close contacts now in Canberra.
ACT Health has advised it was highly likely exemption requests would not be granted to construction workers wishing to enter the ACT, with the worsening NSW outbreak leading to the death of a Sydney man on Tuesday.
From Tuesday, workers wishing to travel to the ACT from the construction industry must have a signed application from the head contractor of the site where the worker will be working.
If ACT Health grant an exemption, the worker cannot work at any other project sites. If an exempted worker wishes to work at another project site, they must apply for a separate exemption.
Workers from Covid affected areas may also have to undergo a 14-day quarantine period prior to entering the worksite, as part of the new restrictions.
An ACT Health spokeswoman said given the evolving situation in New South Wales, it was highly likely that exemption requests would not be granted.
"ACT Health encourages individuals and businesses in the sector to plan on this basis," the spokeswoman said. "This is to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission between project site."
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The case identified in Goulburn on Tuesday has sparked debate over what qualifies as an essential worker, with the painter permitted to have travelled from south Sydney last week under current NSW Health directives.
NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant told media on Tuesday that health authorities had been concerned about the risk of seeding from the outbreak in Sydney from the beginning.
Dr Chat said that was why mask-wearing requirements were in the regions and reduced density of venues were in place outside of Sydney.
"It does highlight why people cannot be complacent about the risk anywhere," Dr Chant said.
"People are permitted to go to the regions, where it is essential for essential work but if you are doing that, all you can do is do that essential work and go home. You can't go to pubs, clubs, hospitality, anything else.
"The restrictions that apply to you is if you are living in Sydney, they apply to you when you are in the regions."
ACT government said it was working closely with the construction sector to ensure essential construction work can continue in a safe manner, while protecting the health and safety of Canberrans.
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