Australia Construction revived as NSW surgeries halt
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Sydney's construction industry is set to wake from a forced, fortnight-long slumber but industry figures warn it will be barely able to function.
Work will be allowed to resume on Saturday morning on non-occupied building sites, provided COVID-safe plans are in force.
But the sector cannot call on 68,000 workers from eight council areas worst-hit by the city's coronavirus outbreak.
Sydney recorded 170 cases on Friday, down on the previous day's pandemic-high of 239 and taking the seven-day total to 1207.
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Most cases are in the eight council areas subjected to the locked-down city's tightest restrictions, including mandatory mask-wearing outside the home and distance limits on movements for shopping and exercise.
Construction workers living in the area, making up about 42 per cent of the industry's citywide workforce, also cannot work.
"This is a highly limited return to work for the construction industry – but something is certainly better than nothing at all," Urban Taskforce chief executive Tom Forrest said.
The restrictions on the eight local government areas "will affect so many construction workers that the industry will be barely able to function", construction union official Darren Greenfield said.
He welcomed the end of the industry's shutdown in other parts of the city but urged the government to exempt some workers living inside the council areas "to avoid bringing the industry to its knees for the long term".
Victorian construction bosses push to fast-track worker vaccination
Victorian construction bosses are in talks with the federal and state government to inoculate 40,000 workers by Christmas, as the halt on construction in NSW enters its second week.The Victorian construction industry is hoping to deliver tens of thousands of Pfizer doses on building sites throughout Melbourne in an attempt to insulate the sector from further shutdowns.
Meanwhile, the city's public hospitals have begun postponing non-urgent elective surgeries to cope with the growing outbreak.
Video: Concern in NSW as outbreak prompts national emergency (Sky News Australia)
Some 58 COVID-19 patients are being treated in intensive care beds, with 40 per cent needing ventilation.
While the state has 500 ICU beds, NSW Health said stopping some elective surgeries from Monday would increase capacity for other health services in Greater Sydney.
The change will not affect theatres in Illawarra or Central Coast hospitals.
NSW Labor wants the postponed surgeries moved to the private sector to ensure waiting lists don't blow out.
"It's what happened last year and it needs to be a priority now," health spokesman Ryan Park said.
NSW last halted elective surgeries in March 2020, in response to a projected shortage of personal protective equipment. Elective surgery restarted about a month later.
Workers in south-west, Western Sydney exempt from toughest COVID-19 restrictions part of 'critical' national infrastructure
Wherever you live in Australia, you could be affected by a shutdown of Western Sydney. The south-west suburbs at the centre of Sydney's COVID-19 crisis are also major hubs of retail distribution, transport and logistics.The Chullora depot of Aramex employs about 300 workers, many of whom come from the surrounding suburbs.
Elsewhere, a local mayor says it's "outrageous" that the military was being sent into Sydney's hardest-hit areas to support NSW Police's COVID compliance operation.
Liverpool Mayor Wendy Waller said the diverse communities included migrants who'd fled war-torn countries.
"Instead of bringing in army patrols, we need more health workers, more COVID-19 testing sites and vaccination information translated and delivered to diverse communities," she said on Friday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison reassured communities that Defence Force personnel were not authorised law enforcement officers in NSW.
"The ADF are there to support and assist, as they successfully did during the lockdown in Victoria over many months last year," he said.
Premier Gladys Berejiklian has urged all adults to get vaccinated as soon as possible.
A new, walk-in AstraZeneca vaccination clinic at Bankstown Sports Club opens for its first full day on Saturday.
Operating 8am to 5pm, it's one of 13 walk-in clinics across the west and southwest. Up to four will be open each day.
Vax shot a must as Sydney builders return .
Construction will be allowed to resume on unoccupied sites across Greater Sydney, but workers from the hardest-hit areas will have to be vaccinated.All unoccupied construction sites can reopen with 50 per cent capacity from Wednesday, the NSW government announced on Saturday evening.