As Victoria doubles down on its fourth Covid-19 lockdown, a reprieve has been extended to the state’s solar industry, with PV panel installation getting a special mention as permitted to go ahead under slightly relaxed Melbourne metro restrictions, starting Friday.
Victoria’s state Labor government on Wednesday announced that it would extend the lockdown for another week in response to an outbreak of the highly contagious Indian variant – or Kappa, as it has been re-named – of the Coronavirus.
The snap lockdown, which had been due to end at midnight on Thursday, will now remain in place until midnight Thursday June 10, but with some slightly relaxed conditions, and with an exemption for most of the state’s regional areas.
One of the key changes to the conditions for the coming week – which apply from 11.59pm Thursday June 03 – are to the rules around work outdoors, which now allow up to five people to complete a range of jobs, notably including solar panel installation.
This differs from the rules during the circuit breaker restrictions that applied over the pas week, under which solar installations on occupied homes were not considered construction and were ordered to cease unless a matter of human health and wellbeing or as part of construction projects at unoccupied properties.
Victorians will also not be required to wear masks outdoors from 11.59pm on Thursday, as long as they can safely maintain a physical distance of at least 1.5 meters between themselves and other people.
The amended restrictions will come as a welcome relief to the state’s solar industry, which last year suffered under months of strict Stage Four restrictions that saw total monthly rooftop PV installs plunge dramatically, from around the 60MW mark in July to just 31MW from August to September.
The Victorian market had since bounced back, charting an all-time high in the state of 69MW of new rooftop solar capacity installed for the month of March, as recorded by industry analysts SunWiz.
Victoria continues to offer one of the nation’s best rooftop solar subsidies, through its popular Solar Homes scheme, which in March of this year was extended to small businesses in the state, with 15,000 rebates offering a discount of up to $3,500 for systems sized up to 30kW.