Victorian printers relieved to be able to keep operating

Victorian print, mail house and distribution operators are breathing a sigh of relief as the sector has been saved from an enforced coronavirus shutdown so long as they adhere to COVID-safe practices.

Victoria was left waiting most of yesterday for Premier Daniel Andrews to make his announcement about which sectors would be forced into complete shutdown in a bid to stop the raging spread of COVID-19 across the state.

The news when it finally came was greeted with great relief from the industry, although with many sectors forced to shutdown for the next six weeks this will no doubt have an impact on print volumes in the short term at least.

The Real Media Collective had been actively lobbying the Victorian government to keep the sector open should a complete shutdown be ordered and Chief Executive Officer Kellie Northwood was thrilled with the result.

The Real Media Collective CEO Kellie Northwood

“I want to thank all the Victorian members who responded so quickly over Sunday night and Monday morning following the Premier’s Sunday announcements. This has allowed us to communicate quickly to the needs of government following our original submission in July,” Northwood told Sprinter.

“Our discussions to date with the Victorian Premier’s Office to maintain print, mail-houses and distribution businesses open highlight the importance of our industry as an essential services supply chain provider across – health, including mental health collateral, patient records and pharmacy notices, education, construction, utility and finance sectors specifically.

“We have highlighted to government our members, and broader industry, operate high distanced premises, with our industry insights survey reporting the smallest sqm per person was 55 and the average industry sqm 280sqm. Well above the Safe Work recommendation of 4sqm per person. We also outlined cross-overs from shifts is limited or no-contact and our member’s sites have no public access granted.”

Complete Colour managing director Tim Michaelides was also relieved with the news, but added there is still great uncertainty which is preventing any long term business planning.

Michaelides has also expressed concern about what the broader shutdowns will mean for print as there will be less companies operating and therefore less companies needing work.

Tim Michaelides, managing director, Complete Colour

“Print is an essential product and we didn’t think we would be shut down but the one thing we were worried about if we were is that we would lose our national clients to our competitors in the northern states,” Michaelides told Sprinter.

“We are thankful that we are not shutdown that’s for sure.”

Michaelides said he has invested in a temperature checking system at this 3,500 square metre factory which prevents the doors from actually opening if the person scanned has a high temperature.

Melbourne-based wide format trade print business, Mediapoint, says it already has the COVID-19 safe protocols in place and is not missing a beat with its operation.

“We have been inundated with trade partners nationwide reaching out to us after Premier Andrews announcement. We would like to thank everyone for their concern,” the company said.

“On current advice we have, is that print in Victoria is considered a Category 2 business and can keep running following certain guidelines and protocols which we have already implemented.

“If this advice changes or is incorrect then we will let you know and keep in contact.”

Print and Visual Communication Association (PVCA) CEO Andrew Macaulay told Sprinter that print being included under Category 2 of the essential services list is good news for the industry.

“For many businesses, this would potentially mean an immediate cashflow depreciation for six weeks, which may be a catastrophe for some businesses. But printing being included under Category 2 of the essential services list is a positive for our industry,” he said.

However, a requirement for operation is for print businesses to have a COVID-19 plan that meets a set of regulations outlined by the Department of Health.

“This means that print businesses will need to have in place hygiene stations, knowing who is in the premises on every shift, the need for all staff to use PPE masks, and staff signing a personal declaration stating that they do not have any of the COVID-19 symptoms,” he mentioned.

“They need to have this plan in place and if an inspector comes around, they will need to show it.”

Macaulay also mentioned that print businesses that have diversified their business offerings to include PPE solutions will be able to benefit from the government requirements for PPE in Victoria and NSW.

“Some printers that have been at the forefront of innovation and have adapted their business models to meet current needs – like those that are printing PPE – will be able to benefit from the COVID-19 requirements by some state governments in the use of such protective gear,” he added.

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