Seeley International has joined the call to recognise the refrigeration and air conditioning industry as an essential service and to allow businesses to operate if more severe lockdowns come into force as a result of the Coronavirus COVID-19 outbreak.

In a letter to the federal government, the Australian Refrigeration Council (ARC) said essential business status will help to maintain RAC businesses during these uncertain times.

ARC CEO, Glenn Evans, said it is not a stretch to say refrigeration and air conditioning (RAC) is vital to mankind’s survival.

“When you consider surgical operations can’t happen without refrigeration facilities, or that there’d be no transport of fresh food and other perishables without refrigeration – then you start to understand how important a role a RAC technician plays in society,” he said.

“However, with COVID-19 disrupting everyday life and the threat of non-essential business lockdowns looming, who will ensure the equipment of essential services like hospitals, laboratories, chemists, supermarkets and food transport keeps ticking? The RAC technician.

“In light of this ARC is requesting ‘essential business’ status for RAC businesses and technicians during the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Australian manufacturer, Seeley International, has also called on the federal government seeking to be recognised as an Essential Service Provider if lockdown measures escalate.

Seeley International Group managing director, Jon Seeley, said good heating and fresh air ventilation are essential to good health and must be maintained, especially going into winter. 

“Viruses thrive in cold environments, which is why flu season peaks in winter,” he said.

“If people don’t keep warm, they are far more susceptible to infection, and their respiratory symptoms will be much worse. More people will develop pneumonia from both COVID-19 and the flu, and more will die from it.”

Seeley said the company’s factories, distribution and service operations have strict hygiene and containment protocols in place to protect staff and customers.

“If we are forced to shut down, some 50,000 homes, workplaces, aged care facilities, hospitals and  government offices across Australia simply will not get the heating and ventilation equipment and servicing they require to keep people safe and well this winter,” Seeley said.

“This applies equally to our dealers and contractors providing critical heating and ventilation services across Australia and around the world. New Zealand and USA have both provided shutdown exemptions that cover our operations, and Australia needs to do the same.”

Seeley said the company is providing an essential service to Australia at a critical time, preventing the impending health crisis from becoming much worse than it needs to be.

“It is therefore imperative that any shutdown will not prevent us from continuing to supply these essential services,” he said.

Seeley International joined a call by the Australian Industry Group for the Federal Government to clarify its definition of an essential service during the outbreak, to minimise unintended and potentially disastrous consequences.

Internationally, trade organisations are seeking similar clarifications. For example, the Air Conditioning, Heating and Refrigeration Institute (AHRI) said the US government should grant technicians and engineers “essential business” status as they are maintaining equipment that is vital to the health and safety of the public.

A total of 10 industry groups made a submission to Washington earlier this week stating that HVACR equipment is vital for air filtration and food and medical supply preservation, especially in a time of quarantine.

“When equipment fails, technicians must be able to repair or replace it as quickly as possible,” the statement said.


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