Multi-dwelling Properties with Shared Facilities
This includes your Owners Corporation which as a priority should have a COVID Safe Plan in place
Guidelines for coronavirus (COVID-19): Stage 3 and Stage 4 restrictions
- 1.1 Context
Victorians are being asked to play their part to keep one another safe and to limit the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) – this includes maintaining a distance of at least 1.5 metres from each other, practising good hygiene and getting tested and staying home even if slightly unwell when you have symptoms, however mild, of coronavirus (COVID-19).Restrictions are in place across Victoria. As at August 2020:
- Stage 4 restrictions are in place for metropolitan Melbourne.
- Stage 3 restrictions are in place for regional Victoria, including Mitchell Shire.
For up to date information about changes to restrictions in Victoria, visit: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/victorias-restriction-levels-covid-19.
Multi-dwelling developments in metropolitan Melbourne who undertake permitted activities in their building, and have five or more workers onsite, must have a COVIDSafe Plan in place. Those located in regional Victoria are advised to have a COVIDSafe Plan in place.
An example COVIDSafe Plan template is available on the Business Victoria website.
- 1.2 Purpose
Residential multi-dwelling developments with shared facilities represent a risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission between neighbouring residents, compared to single dwelling or lower density residential buildings.
This document is intended to provide advice to managers and operators of multi dwelling buildings in Victoria on how to limit the potential for transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19) between residents, staff and visitors, and comply with directions issued by the Victorian Chief Health Officer under Stage 3 and Stage 4 Restrictions.
‘Multi dwelling buildings’ includes, but is not limited to:
- Low, mid and high-rise residential apartment buildings
- Student accommodation
- Long term accommodation rentals
- Townhouses with shared facilities
- Single room occupancy properties with shared facilities
- Mixed use properties where there is residential component with shared facilities
These guidelines do not replace Victorian legislation or regulations which seek to protect the health, safety and welfare of tenants of residential apartments or student accommodation and should be implemented only in alignment with existing legislation.
An Owners Corporation of a multi-unit dwelling that operates or controls a work premise is deemed an employer. Its workers include employees, subcontractors (and their employees) volunteers and any other person engaged or permitted to perform work.
More information on public health directions applying to employers is available at: https://www.business.vic.gov.au/disputes-disasters-and-succession-planning/covid-safe-business/creating-a-covid-safe-workplace.
You can also refer to the following guidance:
- WorkSafe: Managing COVID-19 risks – face coverings in workplaces
- DHHS: Preventing infection in the workplace
- DHHS: Preparing for a case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in your workplace
- DHHS: Planning and responding to cases of coronavirus (COVID-19)
- DHHS: Cleaning and disinfecting to reduce COVID-19 transmission
- WorkSafe: Other relevant industry specific guidance
2.2 Permitted Worker Scheme
Under Stage 4 restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne, all employers at Permitted Work Premises that require their employees to attend a work site in metropolitan Melbourne or have employees travelling from metropolitan Melbourne to a worksite in regional Victoria must issue a Permitted Worker Permit to their employees. It is the employer’s responsibility to provide this permit to their employees.
To issue a worker permit, employers will need:
- name, ABN, company address and trading name
- the name and date of birth of the employee
- the employee’s regular hours and place of work
- to meet all eligibility criteria, including that the business is a permitted activity
- to meet all relevant legal obligations
- to have a COVID-19 safe plan in place
- to authorise a person or people to issue the worker permit.
More information on the Permitted Worker Scheme is available on the DHHS website.
Multi-unit dwellings with shared facilities currently have restrictions relating to the type of work allowed that are permitted onsite. These restrictions differ between Stage 3 and Stage 4 restrictions.
Under Stage 4 restrictions, workplaces must close unless they are on the Permitted Work Premises List, available at: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/business-industry-stage-4-restrictions-covid-19
Work is permitted to occur onsite at multi dwelling properties under Stage 3 Restrictions, but anyone who can work from home, must work from home. For more information on permitted work in Stage 3 restricted areas, please visit https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/stage-3-restrictions-covid-19.
2.4 Development of COVIDSafe plans
2.4.1 Developing your COVIDSafe Plan
Permitted workplaces with more than five workers that operate under Stage 4 restrictions in metropolitan Melbourne must have already implemented their COVIDSafe Plan by now. It is advised that workplaces in regional Victoria also complete a COVIDSafe Plan. Guidance on how to prepare your COVIDSafe Plan is available here.
Each multi-dwelling property is unique and should have tailored plans based on the information contained in this guide. The guidance should be referred to as you implement and revise your COVIDSafe Plan.
The obligations set out under the COVIDSafe Plan is in addition to obligations to comply with the advice regarding cleaning and disinfecting for non-healthcare settings, and existing obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
The information, checklists and FAQs provided in these guidelines should assist managers and operators of multi-dwelling property to create a bespoke plan to safely operate for residents and staff.
|ACTIONS (Detailed checklist is provided in Appendix 1)|
|What you need to do to?||Ensure the property is set up in a way that ensures compliance with Victoria’s restriction levels for appropriate group gathering limits and physical distancing requirements.|
|[If located in metropolitan Melbourne] Close non-essential indoor and outdoor recreation facilities|
|[If located in regional Victoria] Close non-essential indoor recreation facilities. Ensure outdoor recreation facilities that are allowed to remain open comply with restrictions|
|Establish hygiene stations (with hand sanitiser) at building entrance points and in communal areas to encourage hand hygiene of residents and staff.|
|Display signage and posters at entries and in common areas.|
|Provide residents and staff with information and consider displaying coronavirus (COVID-19) information and signage provided in these guidelines.|
|Implement an environmental cleaning schedule for all high touch surface and communal areas that remain open to residents.|
|Complete the property plan checklist attached to this guideline (Attachment 1)|
|Have processes for deliveries, contractors and visitors attending the premises|
|Have a system to enable staff and contractors to complete the complete health questionnaire before starting any shift (Appendix 2)|
|Be ready to work with the Department of Health and Human Services in the event of a case of coronavirus (COVID-19) in a staff member or resident, or an outbreak affecting your property.|
Does the building owner require a COVIDSafe Plan in place if there are five or more contractors attending the site at any given time?
Yes – permitted work premises in Stage 4 restricted areas with more than five workers are required to have a COVIDSafe Plan in place.
If construction is taking place in the multi dwelling property, then the site manager will also be required to complete a High Risk COVIDSafe Plan Attachment.
The definition of a ‘worker’ includes employees, subcontractors (and their employees), volunteers and any other person engaged or permitted by an employer to perform work.
Can the strata manager and administrative office continue to carry out functions that cannot be done at home under Stage 4 restrictions? (e.g. collecting mail from post office, receiving and printing out notices / orders, delivering keys, rebooting office equipment, meeting contractors for works that have already commenced)
Under Stage 4 restrictions, strata managers and administrative staff can only work from site if the functions cannot be carried out at home and the functions are necessary to carry out essential services as listed in the Permitted Work Premises List. Providing accommodation which is a person’s primary residence is a Permitted Work Premises, as are property settlement and commencement/end-of-lease services. The full list of permitted work premises is available here.
Functions are also permitted to be performed on site if it is:
- for the purpose of essential maintenance; or
- as required or authorised by law; or
- in an emergency.
Accordingly, if the function must be performed in order to carry out the services of that Permitted Work Premises, and that function cannot be performed from home, then the strata manager and/or administrative officers are permitted to carry out this function onsite. They must have and adhere to a COVIDSafe Plan, as well as any other current Directions from the Victorian Chief Health Officer, at all times.
Can repairs, maintenance and pest control still be undertaken in multi-unit developments in Stage 4 restricted areas?
Yes, building and grounds maintenance, cleaning, pest control and packaging are permitted work where it is providing support to a Permitted Work Premise or where it is required to maintain the health and safety of Victorians at home or at work. Gardening for cosmetic reasons is not permitted.
Do sole traders and contractors require permits to undertake permitted activities in multi-unit developments?
Yes – they must have a Permitted Work Permit and sign the Permitted Work Permit as both the employer and employee.
Who issues the Permitted Work Permit when the controller of the workplace is the ‘corporate building owner’ and the entity engages a subcontractor to perform permitted works?
If the person is an actual employee of the owners’ corporation, then an authorised representative of the owners’ corporation would need to issue the Permitted Work Permit.
If the person is an independent contractor, an authorised representative of the contracting entity would need to issue the permit.
If the person is a sole trader, they would self-issue the permit.
Communal areas within multi dwelling buildings represent a coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission risk between residents and visitors to a multi-dwelling building.
Under current health directions, communal areas in residential accommodation must be closed to occupants and the public unless they are considered essential for residents. The facilities that must close depend on whether the residential accommodation is located in an area under Stage 3 or Stage 4 restrictions.
Employers must also comply with the minimum density quotient for each shared space that remains open.
Table 1: Permitted communal areas and facilities in multi-dwelling properties under Stage 3 and Stage 4 restrictions
|Communal area or facility||Stage 3||Stage 4|
|Non-essential communal areas and facilities|
|Indoor and outdoor swimming pools||X||X|
|Indoor fitness studios||X||X|
|Change rooms and showers (unless in shared accommodation where residents do not have access their own private shower)||X||X|
|BBQs and surrounding dining areas||X||X|
|Outdoor sporting facilities, including lawn bowling greens, and tennis courts.||✓||X|
|Essential communal areas and facilities within residential buildings|
|Entry foyer, lifts and stairwells and pathways||✓||✓|
|Bathrooms (where guests do not have access to their own bathroom)||✓||✓|
|Communal kitchens (where guests do not have access to their own facilities)||✓||✓|
|Dining areas (where residents do not have access to their own dining space)||✓||✓|
|Living areas (where residents do not have access to their own living space)||✓||✓|
|Shared rubbish chutes and waste areas||✓||✓|
|Car parking, storage facilities including bike racks.||✓||✓|
Key: ✓ = should remain open X = must remain closed
Stage 4 restricted areas
Non-essential communal areas and facilities must close.
Essential communal areas and facilities within residential buildingsshould remain open.
Facilities that cannot be safely managed can be closed at the discretion of the operator. Employers must comply with the density quotient for each shared space.
Stage 3 restricted areas
All indoor physical recreational facilities, including gyms, fitness studios and play centres, along with change room facilities), must be closed. Non-essential communal areas and facilities must also remain closed, except for outdoor physical recreation facilities.
Outdoor physical recreation facilities (such as tennis courts or lawn bowls) can remain open. Participation must be limited to groups of no more than two people in a group (unless the group members live in the same residence). No more than 10 people can be in the facility at one time, and there must be 100 metres between groups at all times, with sufficient space for members of the public to maintain a 1.5 metre distance from one another. No hire or communal / shared equipment can be used.
Essential communal areas and facilities within residential buildings should remain open.
Where essential communal areas remain open, building management should consider the following:
- Limiting the number of people using open communal areas at any given time and facilitating measures that allow users to maintain at least 1.5m distance from other users. A simple way that this can be done is by applying a density quotient and displaying signage to communicate the maximum number of people that should be in the communal area at any given time (see box below).
|Applying the density quotient to all shared indoor spaces (such as kitchens, dining or living rooms) or outdoor spaces (such as gardens) to determine the maximum number people that can occupy a space at any given time will help to promote physical distancing between neighbouring residents. The density quotient is determined by measuring the total area of a space (in square metres) then dividing by four. Guidance on how to calculate the number of people who may gather in a space at one time is available at: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/preventing-infection-workplace-covid-19#what-is-the-four-square-metre-rule.|
- Implementing an environmental cleaning schedule to ensure routine cleaning and disinfection of high touch surfaces and communal areas. For further information on cleaning see ‘Cleaning and disinfecting to reduce COVID-19 transmission – Tips for non-healthcare settings’. Where essential facilities such as bathroom are shared, such as in a single room occupancy property with shared facilities, then routine cleaning will need to be more frequent than, for example, the ‘routine’ cleaning of an apartment lobby. Cleaning schedule should consider:
- regular cleaning and disinfection of communal facilities, such as office spaces, lifts, shared bathrooms and laundries, including vacuuming of carpets.
- regular cleaning and disinfection of frequently touched surfaces, including toilets and handrails, are cleaned at least twice on any given day, and more often if it is a high use facility (for example, a shared toilet in a rooming house which does not provide private toilets).
- surfaces are cleaned when visibly soiled.
- surfaces accessible to a particular group are cleaned between groups.
- removing rubbish.
- surfaces are cleaned immediately after a spill on the surface.
- having visible cleaning logs in all relevant shared workplaces and publicly accessible areas showing dates, times and frequency with which they have been cleaned..-Establishing hygiene stations (with hand sanitiser) at building entrance points and in communal areas to encourage hand hygiene of residents and staff.
- Displaying signage and posters at entries and in common areas. Building managers should consider placing posters throughout the building:
- instructing residents to avoid using communal areas and to quarantine at home if they are unwell or have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)
- encouraging people who feel unwell to get tested and to quarantine at home until they receive their test result
- promoting good hygiene practices, such as coughing and sneezing into your elbow and regular handwashing
- encouraging residents to maintain at least 1.5 metres distance from others when in communal areas or when entering and exiting the buildings
- informing residents that gathering limits of two people apply in all communal areas, unless all people are from the same household
- informing residents that a face covering must be worn when leaving home unless there is a lawful reason not to.
The table below outlines safety and hygiene measures for communal areas typically located in a multi dwelling building.
Table 2: Safety and hygiene measures for specific communal areas in residential accommodation
|Lifts and stairwells||Residents should be encouraged to maintain 1.5 metre physical distancing while waiting for a lift and during use where practical. Floor markings at lift entrances may prompt users to maintain physical distancing while waiting for the lift and should promote unidirectional flow to avoid bottle necks occurring near lift entrance points. Four-square metre density quotients are not mandatory in lifts, but responsible use is encouraged. Building operators may choose to include signage at lift entrances recommending a maximum number of people that should enter a lift in order to maintain 1.5m physical distancing. Residents should be instructed to avoid accessing lifts with others if they have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19). People under quarantine or in isolation, where they are carrying out an essential activity, to the best of their abilities, should ensure they are the only person in a lift or stairwell. They must wear a face covering and maintain at least a 1.5 metre distance from others.|
|Kitchens||Where a shared kitchen remains open because it is essential for guests, you may wish to consider whether the following controls are feasible and appropriate in your setting: Establishing a roster for the use of the kitchen or dining room.Moving or removing furniture to facilitate physical distancing.Removing communal supplies or equipment where practicable (e.g., salt, pepper, sugar, condiments, oils and sauces, coffee machines, ice makers, etc.), and encouraging occupants to provide their own supplies.Considering allocating designated spaces for storage of food for different household groups. Discouraging the sharing of meals and food between occupants, particularly “share plates” where more than one person helps themselves to the same food.|
|Bathrooms||Where possible, consider allocating bathrooms to specific household groups.|
|Laundry||Where shared laundries remain open, you should encourage residents not to shake dirty laundry as this may disperse the virus through the air.|
|Outdoor sporting facilities||For shared outdoor sporting facilities, property managers should adhere to the restrictions that apply to the local area in which they are located. Stage 4 restrictions Under the current health directions, outdoor sporting facilities are all required to close in the Melbourne metropolitan area. Stage 3 restrictions Outdoor sporting facilities (such as tennis courts or basketball courts) can remain open in regional Victoria. Participation must be limited to groups of no more than two people at any one time, unless all participants are members of the same household. These facilities have a total patron cap of 10 people, unless each group of two can maintain 100 meters distance from all other people. Equipment (such as tennis racquets or basketballs) cannot be made available for residents for communal or shared use.|
|Gardens and courtyards||Communal gardens should remain open as a place for building residents to exercise and get fresh air. Gathering limits of two people apply in garden areas under Stay at Home restrictions, unless all people are from the same household. These areas should not be accessed at any time by any person undertaking isolation or quarantine.|
|Building entry and exit points||Consider setting up separate exit and entry points in and out of the building to minimise contact (where possible).|
|Entry foyer, waiting areas||Consider removing seats from lobbies or waiting areas to discourage people from congregating there and where seating is required, spacing it at least 1.5 metres apart.|
|Rubbish chutes and waste areas||Consider placing hygiene stations with hand sanitiser near waste areas or rubbish chutes or encouraging patrons to wash and sanitise their hands after using waste facilities.|
|Car parking, storage facilities including bike racks||Consider placing hygiene stations with hand sanitiser near entry points to the building.|
|Entertainment and events||Property managers and residents must not organise events in communal areas that encourage people to come together.|
All Victorians must wear a face covering when they leave home unless there is a lawful reason to not wear one. Communal spaces outside an individual apartment, including entrance halls, foyers, lifts and letterbox areas are treated as public spaces under public health directions. This means that residents are required to wear a face covering as soon as they exit their individual apartment or dwelling, even if it is simply to go and collect their mail.
More information about face coverings is available at: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/face-coverings-covid-19
Do private strata, body corporates or owner corporations have to close common property and communal facilities?
Under the current health directions, a person who owns, controls or operates a swimming pool, or an indoor or outdoor physical recreation facility in Victoria must operate that facility in accordance with public health directions that apply at the time. As the operator of those facilities, they are required to comply even if those facilities are not open to the general public.
What does the ‘four-square metre’ rule mean?
To maintain physical distancing requirements, there must be enough space that equates to one person per four square metres.
This is used to calculate the total number of people you should aim to have in an area of the building at any one time. The size of your premises means you may provide advice to limit number of people occupying that area. For example, if your facility has a shared floor space of 20 square metres you can aim to have a maximum of five residents in that space at any one time.
What are the most important things I can do to reduce the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) in my building?
Communication to residents is critical – reinforce the messages of good hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette (such as coughing or sneezing into a tissue or your elbow), physical distancing of at least 1.5 meters, and only leaving home with a face covering for a permitted reason.
Information should be also be provided on:
- monitoring symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19)
- getting tested for coronavirus (COVID-19)
- staying home and not using communal facilities when feeling unwell.
In addition, ensuring a COVIDSafe Plan is established at all sites will ensure the correct training, equipment, response and coordination is in place if and when an outbreak occurs. A response person should be nominated to oversee the implementation of the plan.
Limiting access to communal areas and frequent cleaning of open communal areas will also help to reduce the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) in the multi-dwelling property.
Are residential buildings required to apply the ‘four square metre’ rule to all communal areas?
Building managers for residential accommodation are not required to apply the ‘four square metre’ rule outlined in the restrictions. However, certain facilities (if located in an area of Victoria where they are permitted to remain open) are required to apply the ‘four square metre’ rule. These include facilities such as indoor physical recreation facilities, activity centres, libraries and cinemas.
Even where it is not a legal requirement, operators are encouraged to apply this rule wherever possible for the health and safety of all residents, staff, visitors and contractors. It is recommended to have hand sanitiser readily available in communal areas, entrances and exits.
Will the Victorian Government provide downloadable signage that I can place at the facility on physical distancing and expected staff and resident behaviours?
Additional signage provided by the Victorian Government can be downloaded at:
How often should surfaces be cleaned?
Cleaning and disinfecting common contact surfaces will help to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Where possible, this should be done at least twice daily for high-touch surfaces. For essential shared facilities such as shared bathrooms in rooming houses, even more frequent cleaning may be required in order to keep the area clean. Surfaces and fittings should also be cleaned immediately when visibly soiled and after any spillage.
Common contact surfaces include:
- Lift buttons
- Door and cupboard handles
- Tables and chairs (including underneath)
- Kitchen and food contact surfaces
How should surfaces be cleaned and disinfected?
You need to clean and disinfect surfaces; both steps are essential. The first step is cleaning, which means wiping dirt and germs off a surface. You can use common household detergent products for cleaning, they are stocked at supermarkets.
Cleaning alone does not kill germs. The next step is to disinfect the surface. Disinfection means using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. Again, supermarkets stock common household disinfection products – it is important to use products that are labelled “disinfectant” and to follow the instructions on the label. You can find more information at: www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/cleaning-and-disinfecting-reduce-covid-19-transmission.
I cannot restrict access to some non-essential facilities (e.g. an open-aired swimming pool or barbecue). How can I close this area off to residents?
If access to non-essential communal facilities cannot be restricted by locking them up or removing them, then property managers must use tape or signage to indicate that those facilities are closed.
Are residents required to wear face coverings when they are still accessing a communal area within the multi-dwelling facility?
Yes, residents and any guests must wear a face covering when they are in a communal area and ensure strict physical distance of at least 1.5 metres from others. Managers must regularly communicate that if a resident is unwell, they must not visit communal areas and should seek medical advice immediately. A face covering is not required in some circumstances, including where a medical condition or other condition impairs the ability to wear one. Further information on face coverings can be found here: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/face-masks-and-coverings-covid-19
What if residents do not have a face covering they can wear around communal areas?
Residents can purchase a face covering in many shops including pharmacies, supermarkets or online. People who do not wear a face covering and do not have a lawful excuse can be fined $200. A scarf is also an acceptable form of face covering – as long as it covers the nose and mouth, however this will not provide the same level of protection as a disposable surgical or reusable cloth mask.
Face shields may be an alternative option and easier to wear for some individuals who have limited ability to wear face coverings.
Are preventative and maintenance services for the common property still allowed?
Building and grounds maintenance, cleaning, pest control and packaging services are permitted to operate where providing support to a Permitted Work Premises or where required to maintain the health and safety of Victorians at home or at work.
2.6.1 Visitors to the home and building
Under the current public health directions, Victorians cannot have social visitors to their home. This means you cannot make social visits to friends and family. Residents cannot have any visitors to their home other than those providing care or an essential service. Rules regarding visitors to the home also apply to neighbours or other residents in the same property.
In order to minimise the number of non-residents entering the building, residents who are receiving deliveries of goods, including groceries, home delivered food, or any other package, should be instructed pick up the package from the ground floor entry, unless they are under directions to self-isolate or quarantine at home.
Record keeping measures must be in place when permitted activities are undertaken in multi-unit dwellings. This involves collecting records of all workers, subcontractors, customers and clients attending the work premises for 15 minutes or longer.
Each property could also consider requesting that non-residents ‘sign-in’ to the building when attending for more than 15 minutes, providing their first name and a contact phone number, where non-residents consent to this. Where properties keep a record, personal details should be kept securely. Information collected should also include the date and time at which the person attended the facility and, if applicable, the room number they visited. Where records are kept, these records should be kept for 28 days and then destroyed.
Visitors should be requested to maintain a distance of at least 1.5 metres from others. This should be actively monitored by staff where possible. Signs could be installed at major queuing locations, like lifts, reminding visitors and staff to maintain 1.5 metres from one another.
Does the visitors rule apply to short stay accommodation?
Accommodation facilities including private holiday rental facilities (such as Airbnb) are not permitted under Stage 3 or Stage 4 restrictions unless it is for one of the following reasons:
- to a person whose place of residence is the accommodation facility
- to a person who is ordinarily a resident of Victoria but has no permanent place of residence in Victoria
- to a person who has a permanent place of residence in Victoria, but that place is temporarily unavailable
- to a person, on a temporary basis, who has travelled to Victoria for work purposes
- to a person who was already a temporary guest of the accommodation facility on 8 July 2020
- to a person who requires emergency accommodation, including in relation to family violence and other vulnerable groups
- to a person who requires accommodation for work purposes, where their work is for the purposes of responding to the state of emergency in existence under the PHW Act
- to a person who is subject to a Direction and Detention Notice, the Diagnosed Persons and Close Contacts Direction or a Detention Direction
Holiday visitors are currently not permitted in Victoria. This includes short stay accommodation. Victoria Police are conducting routine enforcement of restrictions and can issue on the spot fines of up to $1,652 for individuals.
Restriction levels across Victoria can change and this is to help slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and keep Victorians safe. Updates to any restrictions can be found here: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/victorias-restriction-levels-covid-19
Will building managers be notified when there is a positive case in a multi dwelling building with shared facilities?
DHHS may contact building managers when residents of multi-dwelling buildings test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) and there is an assessment made that more information is required to assess risk, or that additional public health actions are required.
Are building managers required to inform all building patrons when there is a positive case in the building?
DHHS will work closely with building managers in the event there is a positive case in the building and additional public health actions are required.
What is the advice for people who have been tested and are awaiting their test results?
People must self-isolate at home while awaiting their test results.
If you have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) you must self-isolate.
People in isolation:
- should stay in a different room to other people as much as possible. Sleep in a separate bedroom and use a separate bathroom if available.
- must not allow other people into the home if they don’t live there, unless they are there to provide medical, personal care or household assistance.
- ensure they stay maintain at least 1.5 metres from others in the home and wear a mask if this is not possible.
- are not permitted to leave the property to exercise are permitted to leave your property to seek medical help or in an emergency.
People that are in quarantine or isolation should stay in regular contact with their close family and friends and ask them to get food, medicines or other necessities when required. People can also contact your local council to access services. Visit the Know Your Council website to find your council.
Those who do not have nearby support to help them can call the coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline on 1800 675 398. Delivery of a free emergency relief package can be arranged for people who are unable to access food themselves or do not have support available to them. Further information on emergency relief packages is available on the DHHS website.
More information on self-quarantine generally is available at: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/self-quarantine-coronavirus-covid-19
Self isolation in rooming houses
If a resident is required to self-isolate in a rooming house (that is, a single room occupancy property with shared facilities) because they have tested positive with coronavirus (COVID-19) where possible, use of shared facilities should be avoided.
What support can building management offer residents who are required to isolate or quarantine?
Building management may wish to encourage residents who do not have nearby support or cannot safely isolate or quarantine to call the coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline on 1800 675 398. DHHS can provide support on a case by case basis.
Are there special waste collection procedures that building management needs to follow for confirmed cases or people in isolation or under quarantine?
If residents are responsible for taking their own waste into collection bin(s) in an allocated area, then waste managers who roll out collection bins to the kerbside should wear gloves and wash their hands before and after moving bins. Information on how to handle waste for kerbside collection is available at: https://www.epa.vic.gov.au/for-community/environmental-information/waste
Is there mental health support available for residents?
Yes. A detailed guide to the mental health resources available during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, including general tips for staying healthy, positive and connected, as well as specific guidance for those in self isolation or particularly vulnerable groups, are available on the DHHS website. The site further lists the contact details of a number of external organisations equipped to support people who have further mental health concerns, including Lifeline Australia, Beyond Blue and Kids Helpline.
Management of suspected and confirmed cases amongst employees in the workplace in high density residential facilities should be treated according to a COVIDSafe Plan and implemented in a timely fashion because of the increased risk that high density environments pose to transmission.
Suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19 must be managed in accordance with the site’s COVIDSafe Plan.
A suspected case refers to a person who has attended the workplace in the period commencing 48 hours prior to the of onset of coronavirus (COVID-19), however mild. Symptoms include:
- a fever (≥37.5°C),
- acute respiratory infection (such as cough, shortness of breath, sore throat)
- loss of smell or loss of taste
An employee with suspected coronavirus (COVID-19) is to be supported to travel home immediately OR to isolate at work if unable to travel home immediately.
If isolating at work, the employee must continue to wear a face covering and remain at least 1.5 metres from all other persons. Where possible, the employee should isolate in a separate room from other persons.
An employer must advise the employee to undergo a coronavirus (COVID-19) test and self-isolate.
Where the affected employee was present at the work premises in the period commencing 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms, employers must take all practicable steps to manage the risks posed by the suspected case, including:
- cleaning the affected employee’s workspace
- cleaning of high-touch surfaces
- cleaning of areas where the affected employee attended.
Employers must inform all workers (including the health and safety representative) to be vigilant about the onset of coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms and at symptom onset to self-isolate and be tested as soon as reasonably practicable.
Employers must ensure materials and records are in order to support contact tracing, particularly from the period commencing 48 hours prior to the onset of symptoms of the suspected case. All work premises who have 3 or more suspected cases within a 5-day period must undertake a risk assessment.
For confirmed cases, employees must disclose to their employers as soon as possible after they receive notification that they have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), if they have attended the work premises in the period commencing 48 hours prior to the onset of their symptoms, or in the 48 hours prior to their positive test being taken if they are asymptomatic.
Employers must notify WorkSafe and their Health and Safety Representative, remove the employee from the work premises, undertake a risk assessment to inform closure (in whole or in part) while cleaning is undertaken, undertake a comprehensive clean of the workplace, identify close contacts associated with the employee’s attendance at work, and notify those close contacts to quarantine at home for 14 days.
Employers must also notify employees at the work premises that there has been a confirmed case and to be vigilant about symptom onset and to seek testing if they feel ill. They must notify the health and safety representative (as per OHS Act) of the confirmed case and put in place appropriate control/risk management measures.
The employer must notify DHHS (or its nominee) to report on actions taken above, share risk assessment, provide close contact details, and comply with any further directions from DHHS or WorkSafe as to further closure or cleaning. Areas that are required to close will only reopen once all obligations under the directions and OHS laws have been complied with, and DHHS has authorised re-opening.
How will you enforce compliance?
Victoria Police may conduct spot checks at multi-dwelling residential buildings to ensure compliance with the directions of the Chief Health Officer.
What are the penalties for not complying?
Police can issue on the spot fines of up to $1,652 for individuals and up to $9,913 for businesses who:
- Refuse or fail to comply with the emergency directions;
- Refuse or fail to comply with a public health risk power direction; or
- Refuse or fail to comply with a direction by the Chief Health Officer to provide information.
Bigger fines of up to $20,000 for individuals and $100,0000 for businesses are possible through court ordered fines.
APPENDIX 1. PROPERTY CHECKLIST
- Close non-essential communal areas such as gyms, spas, saunas, pools, playgrounds, barbecues.
- Consider establishing a roster for communal areas that are essential for residents such as shared kitchens and dining areas.
- Ensure your property is set up to adhere to physical distancing and a density quotient of one person per four square metres of the floor space in all open communal areas.
- Optimise physical distancing in the layout by reviewing entry and exit points, flow of residents and staff, location of hand sanitiser.
- If practicable, set up separate exit and entry points to minimise contact.
- Ensure social distancing by placing floor or wall markings or signs to identify 1.5 metres distance between persons for queues and waiting areas.
- Remove waiting area furniture or space seating at least 1.5 metres apart.
- Consider using physical barriers where practical, such as plexiglass around counters in lobbies.
- Display signage for residents and staff and install in appropriate, high visibility locations. Signage should include:
- a sign at the entrance to the area that advises residents and visitors of the maximum number of people allowed in a communal space at any time
- information about the symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the need to stay home when unwell
- hygiene and physical distancing practices.
Staff and management policies, and practices
- Distribute these guidelines to staff and residents so that they are familiar with the guidance information.
- Ensure you as the operator or manager understand your obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act and have reviewed the coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance from WorkSafe Victoria available at www.worksafe.vic.gov.au/resources/preparing-pandemic-guide-employers.
- Run processes and schedules for cleaning and sanitising to maintain good hygiene at your premises, including regular cleaning of high touch points such as doors, handles, chairs and benches. If possible, this should be done at least twice daily.
- Consult with staff on measures you have put in place and provide them with the information and education necessary for them to perform their work in a safe manner including on changes to work practices such as cleaning and sanitising. The Occupational Health and Safety Act places certain obligations on employers regarding when and how to consult with staff about the identification of hazards or risks and determining how they will be controlled (refer to WorkSafe for more information)
- Consider appointing a staff member to be your coronavirus (COVID-19) Response Officer. This person would be responsible for ensuring that your policies and practices are being followed, that staff are well-informed, and records are being kept appropriately.
Residents and staff
- Check with your staff and residents that they are aware of, and understand, the resources and support services available to them.
- Direct staff to stay at home if they have a fever (a temperature of 37.5°C or greater), or if they have any symptoms.
- Encourage staff who are unwell to be tested for coronavirus (COVID-19). Staff must remain in isolation at home until they get the result and it is negative for coronavirus (COVID-19).
- Require your staff to contact a manager if they notice a co-worker or manager with symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19).
- Encourage all staff and residents to download the COVIDSafe App to assist contact tracing.
- Ensure residents and staff are provided with hand washing facilities or appropriate alcohol-based hand sanitisers.
- Establish a system for recording contractor contact details (first name, contact phone number, and time of visit) to support contact tracing.
- Remember to minimise the number of people who touch your record keeping surface and securely store contact details for 28 days.
- Securely destroy contact details after 28 days.
Environment and cleaning
- Ensure cleaning and sanitising procedures are thoroughly implemented.
- Ensure appropriate cleaning and disinfecting products are available to effectively clean and disinfect all surfaces.
- Conduct a deep clean of all contact surfaces and objects, e.g. counters, tables, doors, handles, taps, chairs, tables, handrails, tills, phones, any reusable instrument or equipment.
- Have air conditioning systems serviced according to manufacturer’s instructions and ensure they are fully functional. Where possible fresh air flow should be maximised in indoor premises.
Deliveries, contractors and visitors attending the premises
- Where practical, require delivery drivers or other contractors visiting the premises to limit physical interaction with workers.
- Use electronic paperwork where practical. If a signature is required, discuss providing a confirmation email instead, or take a photo of the goods onsite as proof of delivery.
APPENDIX 2. STAFF CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) HEALTH QUESTIONNAIRE
We encourage each staff member to complete this questionnaire before starting any shift and give your completed questionnaire to the manager to keep as a record.
Staff name: ___________________________________________________
Date: ________________________ Time of shift:_________________
|Are you currently required to be in isolation because you have been diagnosed with coronavirus (COVID-19)?||□ YES □ NO|
|Have you been directed to a period of 14-day quarantine by the Department of Health and Human Services as a result of being a close contact of someone with coronavirus (COVID-19)?||□ YES □ NO|
If you answered YES to either of the above questions you should not attend work until advised by the Department of Health and Human Services that you are released from isolation or until your 14-day quarantine period is complete.
If you answered NO to the above questions, proceed to the symptom checklist below.
Are you experiencing these symptoms?
|Fever (If you have a thermometer, take your own temperature. You are considered to have a fever if above 37.5oC)||□ YES □ NO|
|Chills||□ YES □ NO|
|Cough||□ YES □ NO|
|Sore throat||□ YES □ NO|
|Shortness of breath||□ YES □ NO|
|Runny nose||□ YES □ NO|
|Loss of sense of smell||□ YES □ NO|
If you answered YES to any of the above questions you should not enter your workplace (or should leave your workplace). Tell your employer, go home, and get tested for coronavirus (COVID-19).
If you answered NO to all the above questions, you can enter your workplace.
If you develop symptoms, stay at home and seek further advice from the 24-hour coronavirus (COVID-19) hotline 1800 675 398 or your general practitioner.