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Guidelines for border restriction exemptions for the mining, resources, energy and water sectors

Under the current border restrictions direction, the Queensland border is closed to anyone who has been in a declared COVID-19 hotspot in the last 14 days, with limited exceptions.

These limited exceptions may include:

  • specialist workers who are required in Queensland to perform an essential and time-critical activity
  • workers required to respond to certain emergency events and provide emergency services.

Travelling from other locations

You don't need to apply for an exemption if you're coming from areas that aren't COVID-19 hotspots.

Emergency event exemptions

From 3pm, Monday 28 September 2020, there is an expedited application procedure available to help industry respond to emergency events and provide emergency services. This is only required if travel is from a declared COVID-19 hotspot.

Emergency event definition

An 'emergency event' means a time-critical situation that if not urgently attended to could affect the supply and security of Queensland’s:

  • energy networks
  • drinking water supply or sewerage services
  • liquid fuel supply
  • resources sector
  • telecommunications, data services, broadcast or communications infrastructure.

Process

  1. Fill out the Emergency event employer confirmation statement (DOCX, 18KB) and email to COVID@dnrme.qld.gov.au.
  2. Phone the Department of Resources 24/7 Emergency event line on 0438 721 392 to confirm receipt of template or to seek assistance.
  3. The department will assess the application and provide an approval letter via email.
  4. Complete and print out a Queensland Border Pass (including relevant details of the emergency).
  5. Make sure you provide the worker(s) with the required documentation for presentation on entering Queensland (see below).

Worker documentation requirements

When entering Queensland, workers responding to emergency events must have:

  • Queensland Border Pass
  • the name of their employer
  • a statement from their employer confirming the emergency event (can be the already completed template including the company's signature block)
  • a letter of endorsement from the relevant Queensland Government agency confirming the emergency event and that the service is critical
  • the location of your worksite.

Contact us

For more information or to notify us of an emergency event, email COVID@dnrme.qld.gov.au.

Specialist worker exemptions

Any exemption issued under previous border directions is not valid under this new process – you must apply for a new exemption. Note that a previous approval for exemption does not guarantee approval under the new direction.

Criteria for specialist workers

A specialist worker is defined as a person who provides emergency services or continuity of government or government-funded services, industry, infrastructure or utilities critical to Queensland under the following categories:

  • critical resource sector employees
  • energy sector employees
  • water and sewerage service providers.

A specialist worker must meet all the following criteria:

  • the services provided by the person cannot be obtained in Queensland
  • the service must be provided without delay
  • the person must be physically present in Queensland to provide the service or perform the duty
  • the person's employer has a quarantine management plan
  • the person's employer has a plan to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 among its employees and the community, and the plan complies with the requirements specified by the Chief Health Officer
  • the person provides evidence of the following information upon arrival in Queensland:
    1. their status as an approved specialist worker
    2. the name of their employer
    3. that they are entering Queensland to go directly to work
    4. the location of the worksite or work camp
    5. the location of where they will be accommodated in Queensland while performing the essential activity
  • the person complies with any conditions forming part of their approval as a specialist worker.

Guidance on justifying exemption applications

Resources sector

The considerations that will be applied in assessing applications are significantly more restrictive than previous exemption processes and it is expected that any exemptions granted will be exceptions.

The Department of Resources will only consider applications for the following:

  1. Workers appointed to a statutory role required under the Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999 (CMSH Act), the Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Act 1999 (MQSH Act) or the Petroleum and Gas (Production and Safety) Act 2004 (P&G Act)
  2. Safety critical positions where there is a clear and present need for their entry into Queensland. Examples of safety critical positions include:
  3. Production critical positions in very limited circumstances where the absence of the worker would require complete and/or substantial shut-down of operations.

Meeting these criteria will not result in automatic exemption. The Chief Health Officer will also need to consider broader health factors. In all cases applicants will also be required to demonstrate with detailed evidence the following considerations:

  • why they have not replaced this position with a Queensland-based employee – noting that significant time has passed allowing recruitment to take place
  • the skill set is genuinely and manifestly not available within Queensland beyond being an inconvenience or economically detrimental to source the local labour
  • why they cannot go through 14 days self-funded quarantine based on nature and timing of their work.

Energy sector

This category includes electricity (generation, transmission, distribution and network services) and liquid fuel (wholesale and retail) applications, and gas where it relates to a gas-fired power station and associated infrastructure. Other petroleum and gas related applications fall under the resources sector category (above).

The department will only consider applications that demonstrate the work is essential to Queensland's energy sector and can meet the following criteria:

Electricity examples

  1. Safety – the work is critical to ensuring the safe and secure functioning of an electricity network asset, or the work is related to an emergency or incident response.
  2. Repairs and overhauls – the work is to undertake repairs and overhauls of an electricity network asset (generation, transmission, distribution).
  3. Construction – the work is to deliver infrastructure critical to Queensland energy supply.

Below is additional advice on what may be required for the following criteria:

  • The services required by the person cannot reasonably be obtained in Queensland: The employer must provide details of actions they have taken to confirm the services are not available in Queensland.
  • The service must be provided without delay: The employer must provide details to support that if the service is not delivered it will (or is likely to) lead to:
    • short, medium or long term disruption to an electricity market generation unit, transmission or distribution infrastructure
    • loss of electricity service
    • failure of gas infrastructure to return to service
    • shut down, closure or delay in opening of state transmission or distribution infrastructure or an electricity market generation unit.

Liquid fuel examples

Note: There have been no changes to freight requirements or restrictions.

  1. Safety – the work is critical to ensuring the safe and secure functioning of a wholesale or retail fuel operation which is critical to supply, or the work is related to an emergency or incident response.
  2. Repairs and overhauls – the work is to undertake repairs and overhauls of a wholesale or retail fuel operation and delay would result in reduced supply availability.
  3. Construction – the work is to deliver infrastructure critical to Queensland liquid fuel supply.

Below is additional advice on what may be required for the following criteria:

  • The services required by the person cannot reasonably be obtained in Queensland: The employer must provide details of actions they have taken to confirm the services are not available in Queensland.
  • The service must be provided without delay: The employer must provide details to support that if the service is not delivered, it will (or is likely to) lead to delays and disruption to a wholesale or retail operation or infrastructure, supply chain disruption, or have a significant delay to opening (if it is a new build).

Water and sewerage service providers

The Department of Resources will only consider applications that demonstrate the work is essential to maintaining the safety and reliability of Queensland's drinking water and sewerage sector and can meet the following criteria:

  1. Workers hold a recognised competency to undertake a task at a drinking water and/or sewage treatment plant or within a service operation
  2. The work planned to be undertaken by the worker is critical and urgent to maintain the safety and/or continuity of a drinking water or sewerage service
  3. Not engaging the worker will result in a total or substantial shut down of the essential drinking water and/or sewerage service operation or otherwise risk the safety or reliability of drinking water supply
  4. The skills cannot be obtained within Queensland either from commercial providers or through collaboration with other drinking water and sewerage service providers.

In all cases, applicants will be required to provide sufficient supporting evidence to demonstrate the person's status to be approved as a specialist worker.

For more information about water and sewerage service specialist workers applications, email drinkingwater.reporting@dnrme.qld.gov.au.

Reasons that will not be considered for exemption

The following reasons are unlikely to be considered a justifiable reason for an exemption:

  • Production staff where the absence of the staff member will not result in a total or substantial shut down of the operation. If the impact (which will need to be justified by the applicant) is only partial, minor or will have an impact on efficiency or efficacy, then this will not generally be considered.
  • Applications directly from contractors or consultants – all applications must be passed through the company or operator.
  • Contractual arrangements – a contractual arrangement with a consultant or contractor will not be considered a valid justification for an exemption to be granted.
  • Periodic return home off roster – exemptions will not be considered that provides for the regular movement into and out of Queensland because of shift arrangements.
  • Employees engaged in exploration work, mine planning and expansion, approvals, environmental monitoring, geotechnical or mine surveying activities.
  • For a mine, an employee whose role is not:
    • one within the mine's management structure (see section 55 of the Coal Mining Safety and Health Act 1999 and section 50 of the Mining and Quarrying Safety and Health Act 1999)
    • or
    • one which reports into the management structure and whose duties are carried out at site.

Application process

Note: From 3pm, Monday 28 September 2020, the Chief Health Officer is no longer required to grant exemptions. Instead, specialist workers coming from a COVID-19 hotspot must have their status endorsed by a relevant Queensland Government agency before they can enter Queensland. All applications must be submitted through the Queensland Health exemption and waiver portal.

Who can apply

Applications will only be accepted from the following organisations:

Applications received directly from consultants, contractors and individuals will be rejected.

When to apply

  • Exemptions are one-off and time bound.
  • Workers require a new exemption every time they enter Queensland. For example, if a worker leaves Queensland and seeks to re-enter Queensland later, you must apply for another exemption.
  • You should allow at least 14 days for your application to be processed.

How to apply

  1. Set up your account, then sign-in to the Queensland Health exemption and waiver service portal.
  2. Under the exemption type drop-down, select the type of exemption you are seeking.
  3. When prompted, select the correct industry work type from the available drop-down list (there is an 'other' category if the applicable industry work type cannot be located).
  4. Complete all demographic information fields.
  5. Upload an approved quarantine management plan.
  6. When prompted, answer questions to demonstrate:
    • why the services to be provided cannot be obtained in Queensland
    • why the services must be provided without delay
    • and
    • why the specialist worker must be physically present in Queensland to provide the service or perform the duty.

IMPORTANT: Make sure you provide as much information as possible when applying.

What happens next

Workers cannot enter Queensland until your application has been processed and the exemption granted.

Once submitted, the application will be forwarded to the relevant Queensland Government agency for consideration.

Once the review and assessment process is complete, you will receive an email advising that the employee(s) have qualified for exemption.

You must provide a copy of the letter to the relevant workers. This letter can be presented to border authorities when entering Queensland.

Conditions of entry

If granted, the exemption allows the employee or contractor to travel to Queensland from a COVID-19 hotspot subject to the requirements of the border restrictions direction.

Contact us

For more information regarding specialist worker exemptions for the resources, energy and water sectors, email COVID@dnrme.qld.gov.au.

Contact

Coronavirus (COVID-19) business support: 1300 654 687

General enquiries: 13 QGOV (13 74 68)