The shutdown was announced late Monday after violent protests outside the CFMEU headquarters in Melbourne’s CBD over a vaccine industry mandate.
It applies to job sites in Melbourne, Ballarat, Geelong, Mitchell Shire and the Surf Coast.
Labor Relations Minister Tim Pallas said the shutdown was necessary to reduce movement, reduce transmission of COVID-19 and give the industry time to adapt to the new requirements.
“We warned the industry just a week ago, we have seen appalling behavior on the property and on our streets, and now we are acting resolutely and without hesitation,” he said in a statement.
There was an amnesty on Monday so that a limited number of workers can visit construction sites to seal them off safely.
The government said all sites must demonstrate compliance with the Chief Health Officer’s directions before reopening, including requiring employees to prove they’ve had one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before resuming on Oct. to go to work.
The Property Council of Australia said the closure would cost the economy $1.1 billion a week.
“The majority of construction sites and construction workers are committed to meeting the highest standards of COVID safety and have been doing so since the start of the pandemic,” Executive Director Danni Hunter said in a statement.
“Closing the industry will prevent them from going to work and getting paid and it will block projects that cause hugely costly delays, endangering projects and Victorian jobs.”
Opposition sector spokeswoman Bridget Vallence said the Andrews administration must reverse its “panic decision” immediately.
“The Liberal Nationals condemn the violent protests, but the actions of a few should not be used as an excuse to shut down an entire industry, leaving tens of thousands of people out of work,” she said in a statement.
Union officials say Monday’s protesters were not all CFMEU members and blamed “neo-Nazis and right-wing extremists” for hijacking the event.
The protest escalated when two union officials, including Victorian construction secretary, John Sekta, showed up outside the Elizabeth Street office just before noon to meet protesters.
Setka received booing and insults from the crowd, while some protesters threw bottles.
The violence escalated further Tuesday, with 2,000 protesters storming the West Gate Bridge, halting traffic and attacking cars in the evening.
Organizers have vowed to stage ‘every day’ protests until mandatory vaccine mandate for traditional trade is scrapped
Construction sites were a place of high spread during the latest outbreak, forcing health officials to close the tearooms last week.
The state’s roadmap to get out of lockdown was released Sunday, with minor changes to the restrictions when 80 percent of Victorians over 16 have received a single vaccine dose.
The Melbourne lockdown will remain in effect until 70 percent of Victorians have been double vaccinated, which is expected to take place on October 26.