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For Committees and Owners


For committees and owners

SSKB Resources 

Financial Information 

Building Managers and Contractors 

Health and Wellbeing 

As the effects of COVID-19 keep progressing, SSKB is committed to going above and beyond to assist your community in navigating these difficult times.  

Wednesday 27 May Update

Queensland

The Government has made some temporary (the 25th of May until the 31st of December) adjustments to the BCCM and BUGTA legislation to assist Bodies Corporate in dealing with the impacts of COVID-19. We will work closely with your Committees and Body Corporate to ensure you continue to be compliant with legislation. If you would like to read these in more detail click the link below. 

Click here to read the full amendment bill. 
 
Job Maker plan 
As the nation continues to move out of lockdown, the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has stated the government will now focus on rebuilding the economy and ‘winning the battle’ for jobs. The PM unveiled his ‘Job Maker’ plan to overhaul vocational education and training (VET) and to secure jobs for Australia’s future. 

The program will encourage small, medium and large businesses and the Prime Minister flagged changes to the funding model which sees $1.5 billion of VET funding flow to state governments annually for skills and training. Young Australians aren’t being enrolled in courses which will fill the jobs of the future, he argues, citing the complexity of the “clunky”, “unresponsive”, and “fundamentally flawed” vocational education and training (VET) system as a barrier. Tax and industrial relations are also on the ‘Job Maker’ agenda. 

Over the next three to five years, the Prime Minister stated the federal government will work with state and territory leaders to make sweeping changes but has not increased funding in the short term. 

Coronavirus Active Case Numbers continue to Dive 

In Queensland there are currently only 14 active COVID-19 cases and the national total is below 500. 
 
Most Queenslanders who have contracted COVID-19 have experienced mild symptoms. Currently, four of the 14 active confirmed cases are in hospital, with one of these in intensive care. The remainder of active cases are currently recovering at home. There remains some risk of a secondary wave as we move from lockdown status and as such Health and Government authorities stress the need to remain vigilant with social distancing and hand hygiene practices. 

A total of 1,041 Queenslanders (98 per cent of total cases) have now recovered from COVID-19.  

Click here for more information.  

New South Wales

From Monday 1 June 2020, the following will be allowed: 

Rules that continue to apply include 

Victoria

  • From 26 May have schools gradually resumed classroom learning. 
  • From 1 June a gradual easing of restrictions is planned for social events and ceremonies, fitness, sport and recreation, personal services, cafes and restaurants, travel and leisure, culture and entertainment. 
  • From 22 June a further easing of restrictions is planned. 
  • All eased restrictions and the proposed dates are subject to the advice of Victoria’s Chief Health Officer and the continued and effective management of the spread of COVID-19. 

Wednesday 20 May Update

Queensland

Updates 

  • Pools and shared facilities  
  • From Friday 15 May, pools and shared facilities in Queensland were able to re-open with a maximum of 10 people allowed. 
  • For the health and safety of all residents in your building, we urge you to take precautionary measures when using the pool facilities.  
  • Continue to practice social distancing by keeping 1.5m apart and following hygiene measures.  
  • If you are sick or caring for someone who is sick, we strongly recommend not to use the pool or shared facilities.  
  • Gyms 
  • Gyms should not be open until the second stage of easing restrictions on 12 June pending review.   
  • Please note – gyms have many high-contact surfaces. If your building has a gym, health club or yoga studio, we recommend that once open you take extra precautions to ensure surfaces are cleaned frequently and to a high standard. 
  • Queensland Borders 
  • Queensland premier Annastacia Palaszczuk has announced that Queensland’s border with New South Wales could remain closed until at least September but the closure would be reviewed monthly.  
  • Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk says borders remain closed “based on the best health advice”. 
  • Entry into Queensland for essential travel is only permitted to persons who are eligible for an exemption and who have a Queensland Entry Pass.  
  • A separate application is required for each individual, including children, and all travelers in your party must be eligible for an exemption. 
  • If you require to travel across the Queensland Border you can apply for a boarder pass by selecting the relevant pass below:  

What this means for Bodies Corporate 

With the restrictions starting to ease, your complex/building may start to see a rise in movement in the lifts, lobbies, shared facilities etc. We urge you to continue practicing social distancing, hygiene and limiting the number of people in lifts to just two. SSKB will keep you updated as soon as there are more easing of restrictions announced and how it will impact your communities. 

New South Wales

Updates 
 
Schools 

  • Students across New South Wales will be back in school as of next week. 
  • Regular lessons will go ahead as of Monday May 25, with all students expected to return to the classroom in a full-time capacity. 
  • The NSW Government has made the decision based on the success of part-time classes and is confident that safeguards will remain in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 between returning students. 

Reminder that only outdoor pools with a limit of 10 people are allowed to be open. There is also a maximum of 5 people allowed for indoor gatherings. The NSW Government will closely monitor COVID-19 rates, especially community transmissions, and use this to guide the further easing of restrictions. 

Victoria

Updates 

  • Victoria’s State of Emergency has been extended to 31 May, but some restrictions have been eased. 
  • There are now five (5) reasons to leave your home:  
  • Shopping for food and supplies that you need 
  • Care and caregiving 
  • Exercise and outdoor recreation 
  • Work and education – if you can’t do it from home 
  • Visiting friends and family – if you really need to. 
  • The Victorian Government has announced its plan for the gradual re-opening of cafes and restaurants to dine-in customers from 1 June. Under the proposed plan, restaurants and cafes will be able to resume: 
  • From 1 June with up to 20 patrons per enclosed space 
  • From 22 June with up to 50 patrons per enclosed space 
  • With up to 100 patrons per enclosed space during the second half of July 
  • For more information, see information about the gradual easing of restrictions

Wednesday 13 May Update

Queensland

Following encouraging signs of flattening the curve, some restrictions will ease in Queensland from Saturday the 2nd of May. The Queensland Government are allowing some recreational activities and extending the distance you can travel from home, however, social distancing rules still apply.   

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced on the 8th of May the “COVID safe” plan for the easing of restrictions, with a goal of happening by July 2020. This outlines the steps that businesses and activities can reopen.

 Victoria

The Victorian Government has announced it will gradually ease restrictions. 

This announcement builds on new investments to further boost the ability to test, trace and monitor the virus in the community, with rapid response outbreak squads, expanded testing and support for additional research. 

These measures – combined with the commitment shown by Victorians – has given health authorities vital insight and information, allowing some restrictions to be safely and cautiously lifted. 

Under the changes, it means that there will be five reasons to leave your home: 

  • shopping for food and supplies that you need 
  • care and caregiving 
  • exercise and outdoor recreation 
  • work and education – if you can’t do it from home 
  • visiting friends and family – if you really need to 

These new arrangements came into effect at 11.59pm on Tuesday the 12th of May. 

Aligning with the outcomes of National Cabinet, that means: 

  • outdoor gatherings being permitted with up to 10 people 
  • indoor gatherings at home are permitted, with 5 visitors able to visit the normal residents of a household 
  • the ability to leave the house for exercise will be expanded to include outdoor recreational activities. These activities can occur in groups of up to 10 people outside, but the requirements on physical distancing remain 
  • for weddings 10 guests are allowed, plus the couple and the celebrant 
  • for funerals, 20 people will be allowed at an indoor ceremony and 30 people at an outside ceremony. This is in addition to the minimum people required to conduct the funeral 
  • religious gatherings and ceremonies will be permitted with up to 10 people, plus those required to perform the ceremony 

Back to school:  

  • State school students in prep and grades one, two, 11 and 12 will resume classroom learning on May the 26th
  • Grades three to 10 will return to school campuses on June the 9th
  • All specialist schools will fully reopen on May the 26th.  

New South Wales

After assessing the new framework from National Cabinet, the NSW Government has announced a further easing of restrictions from the 15th of May.  

This will allow more businesses to open and more people to stay in work. 

As NSW takes the next step, we need to keep up our high rates of testing, and continue to practise physical distancing and good handwashing hygiene. If you have even the mildest symptoms, you should stay at home. 

From Friday the 15th of May, the following will be allowed in NSW: 

  • outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people 
  • cafes and restaurants can seat 10 patrons at any one time 
  • up to 5 visitors to a household at any one time 
  • weddings up to 10 guests 
  • indoor funerals up to 20 mourners, outdoor funerals up to 30 
  • religious gatherings/places of worship up to 10 worshippers 
  • use of outdoor equipment with caution 
  • outdoor pools open with restrictions. 

The NSW Government will closely monitor COVID-19 rates, especially community transmissions, and use this to guide the further easing of restrictions. 

Click here to find out more. 

SSKB is working closely with the Committees and Building Managers to effectively manage the reopening of shared facilities. We understand that people will be keen to start using pools and gyms again, but please follow all number limits and continue to practice social distancing. We want to thank everyone who has worked together as a community to follow all public health directives and will continue to do so.  


 
‪From Saturday the 2nd of May, you can:‬   

  • Go for a drive (within 50km of home)  
  • Ride a motorbike, jetski or boat for recreation  
  • Have a picnic  
  • Visit a national park  
  • Shop for non-essential items  

What this means for Body Corporate: 

You may see a bit of a rise in movement around your complex, so please continue to practice social distancing in receptions areas, lifts etc. Please note, while outdoor picnics with members of your household, or yourself and on other individual will no longer be restricted – the limits on number of people for indoor and outdoor gatherings will remain in place. This means people should not be having more than 2 guests in their lot. 

COVID-19 Emergency Response Bill 2020 for Strata 

Amendments have been passed for COVID-19 which affect Bodies Corporate and residential tenancies.  
Below is a summary: 

  • Allow Body Corporate meetings to be held using audio visual technology or instead be held by the circulation of materials upon which a vote is conducted. 
  • Allow documents to be served by email where appropriate.  
  • Allow requirements to be suspended and alternative arrangements to be put in place.  
  • The Bill provides for a regulation-making power to give effect to the National Cabinet decision of 29th of March 2020 to impose a moratorium on evictions for residential tenants and residents who are in financial distress and are unable to meet their commitments due to the impact of the COVID-19 emergency.  
  • The Bill also removes obligations for owners and providers to undertake routine repairs and inspections where they are incompatible with social distancing and other community health objectives. 

Click here to read the full COVID-19 Emergency Response Bill 2020. 

What this means for Body Corporate: 

It is a positive step for Bodies Corporate meetings, as this bill provides clarity that when more social distancing measures are lifted, Bodies Corporates will not face any implications from utilising technology to conduct meetings. We have seen some great engagement via virtual meetings, and it will be interesting to see how many people want to continue to utilise this service once social distancing measures have been lifted. 

COVIDSafe app 

The COVIDSafe app is part of the Australian Governments work to slow the spread of COVID-19.  The COVIDSafe app helps find close contacts of COVID-19 cases. The app helps state and territory health officials to quickly contact people who may have been exposed to COVID-19. The COVIDSafe app speeds up the current manual process of finding people who have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19. This means you’ll be contacted more quickly if you are at risk. This reduces the chances of you passing on the virus to your family, friends and other people in the community. 

s part of the Australian Governments work to slow the spread of COVID-19.  
The COVIDSafe app helps find close contacts of COVID-19 cases. The app helps state and territory health officials to quickly contact people who may have been exposed to COVID-19. The COVIDSafe app speeds up the current manual process of finding people who have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19. This means you’ll be contacted more quickly if you are at risk. This reduces the chances of you passing on the virus to your family, friends and other people in the community. 

Click here to read COVIDSafe app FAQ’s. 

Useful links 

Queensland Residential Tenancies and COVID-19

Amendments to the Residential Tenancies and Rooming Accommodation Act were originally set to be introduced to parliament on Wednesday 22 April. However, amendments had to be changed due to a negative response from property investors throughout Queensland.  
 
REIQ suggested that the proposed measures could have seriously harmed over 600,000 property owners who provide the vast majority of rental housing supply to 35% of Queensland’s population who rent. 
 
Minister for housing and public works Mick de Brenni has informed that the government worked with industry stakeholders. This enabled the government to consider the concerns from Queensland property owners and tenants.  

COVID-19 Rent Guideline Summary  

  • The threshold criteria to qualify for the COVID-19 rental response includes a 25% reduction in income or rent exceeds 30% of the tenant’s income.  
  • Tenants can be asked to provide property managers with the same proof of finances as they would when starting a tenancy.  
  • There is a 75% income loss threshold before a tenant can end a tenancy with a 7-day cap on break lease fees. 
  • A fixed term tenancy will be automatically extended to 30 September 2020 unless the owner and tenant agree otherwise or there is an appropriate ground to end a tenancy.  
  • The Government will provide clear guidance to ensure access for essential repairs and maintenance, the sale of a property and virtual inspections. 
  • Tenants and property owners are being asked to work together where a tenant is experiencing COVID-19 related financial challenges to negotiate a new temporary and sensible amount.  
  • The Queensland Government have established a $20 million dollar rental grant fund to complement existing Centrelink support.  

The Residential Tenancies Practice Guide COVID-19 will be published on the Queensland Government’s new Coronavirus website.  

Victorian Residential Tenancies and Covid-19

The Victorian Parliament will be recalled on 23 April 2020 to pass legislation in response to the following residential and commercial tenancy reforms agreed to by the National Cabinet: 

  • A temporary ban on evictions for residential and commercial tenancies for small to medium-sized businesses 
  • Pausing rental increases for 6 months 
  • Implementing the National cabinet’s mandatory code of conduct for tenancies  
  • A $420 million package for landlords and rent relief for tenants experiencing financial hardship 
  • An $80 million rental assistance fund for renters facing hardship 

Below is a summary of the Victorian Premiers media release: 

  • Partnerships will have to be formed between landlords and tenants to get through the crisis 
  • For landlords who provide tenants impacted by the Coronavirus with rent relief. This includes a 25% discount on their land tax and any remaining land tax can be deferred until March 2021 
  • A Coronavirus Relief Deputy Commissioner will be established at the State Revenue Office to manage the land tac relief claims 

Click here to find out more.  

What to do if someone in your building tests positive for COVID-19

Do they need to alert the entire Body Corporate/Owners Corporation?

It would need to be made a by-law if the Committee wish to make a ruling that owners need to notify the Body Corporate of being infected with COVID-19 (From BCCM). There is no government recommendation or requirement that we have seen that states a resident would have to notify the BC or committee of a positive diagnosis.

If you are notified of a positive diagnosis, we encourage you to only disclose to people that need to be made aware. Do not provide any confidential information such as lot number or the identity of the person and ensure that reasonable steps are taken to keep personal information secure and those  who are informed are on a ‘need to know basis’.

Who are the parties that need to know?

  • Any contractors who service the building should be made aware so that they can make necessary precautions (PPE).
  • The Community Manager and Building Manager should be advised of which apartment so they can be aware in case of any emergencies.
  • Information should be provided to the affected resident regarding deliveries, rubbish, restrictions and any other important information relevant for your particular building.

For further information in regard to your obligations and adherence to the Privacy Act (1988) in reference to Covid-19, go to oaic.gov.au/updates/news-and-media/covid-19/.

Who is responsible for cleaning the common area?

It is a requirement that the Body Corporate/Owners Corporation must maintain any common property in good condition. This may include cleaning common property if it becomes contaminated. For information around cleaning shared areas see this link.

What if they do not follow self-quarantine restrictions:

This is a police matter, not a Body Corporate/Owners Corporation issue. If someone is required to be in quarantine and does not, it is a criminal offence. This should not be actioned at all by the Body Corporate/Owners Corporation, instead alert Police (with evidence).

Government information for hotels:

  • What if hotel patrons need to self-isolate? If hotel patrons need to self-isolate in a hotel, it is important staff take precautions to prevent the spread of the virus. The risk to staff should be low if they wash their hands well and the patrons do not have symptoms. Staff should avoid close contact with these guests, but it is safe to be in the same room (at a distance) without protective equipment when delivering food, which we recommend guests have in their room.
  • If a person who has self-isolated begins to develop symptoms, they should be seen urgently by a doctor at a hospital and the relevant state or territory public health authority should be contacted. It is important to phone ahead to the hospital or doctor to get advice. Staff should avoid contact with guests who become unwell and seek appropriate medical advice if this occurs.

New Announcements/Updates – Queensland  

We have had a number of questions and confusion around whether or not Bodies Corporate are expected to close their pools (and other shared facilities). We have received relevant information from Government sources, as well as liaising with an insurance broker regarding the issue. 

SSKB recommends that all Bodies Corporate close the shared facilities which are specifically referred to in the State Government health directives.  

There has been an update to the wording for the QLD Public Health Direction, which outlines the following is restricted: 

“Swimming pools including public pools and pools in shared facilities such as hotels and apartments” 

Following the consideration of insurance advice, the Body Corporate Committee needs to ensure all Government directives are being followed and failure to do so could jeopardise the cover under their Body Corporate insurance policy (which may result in any claim incident in respect of this being declined).  

SSKB recommend that in accordance with the Qld Public Health Directions that any common property shared areas that have been closed should have relevant signage installed so that residents are aware of the closure of the facility.  Ie Gyms, BBQ areas, swimming pools etc. If Committees need assistance with this, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your Community Manager.  

We understand that exercise is an integral part of people’s health and wellbeing and that the closures like this can have a negative impact, so we have included a few links below for information regarding exercise and mental health.  

We are still waiting on further information regarding commercial and residential tenancies and how the state governments will act, we will update as soon as information is available.  

New Announcements/Updates – Victoria

We have had a number of questions and confusion around whether or not Owners Corporations are expected to close their pools (and other shared facilities). We have received relevant information from Government sources, as well as liaising with an insurance broker regarding the issue. 

SSKB recommend that all Owners Corporations close certain shared facilities, specifically pools and gyms in accordance with both Federal and State directives.  

The Victorian Department of Health refers to the restriction as: 

“swimming pools, both public and shared” 

Following the consideration of insurance advice, the Owners Corporation Committee needs to ensure all Government directives are being followed, otherwise it could jeopardise the cover under their policy (which may result in any claim incident in respect of this being declined).  

SSKB recommend that in accordance with the Victoria Public Health Directions that any common property shared areas that have been closed should have relevant signage installed so that residents are aware of the closure of the facility.  Ie Gyms, BBQ areas, swimming pools etc. If Committees need assistance with this, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your Owners Corporation Manager.  

We understand that exercise is an integral part of people’s health and wellbeing and that the closures like this can have a negative impact, so we have included a few links below for information regarding exercise and mental health.  

We are still waiting on further information regarding commercial and residential tenancies and how the state governments will act, we will update as soon as information is available. 

Helpful Links 

https://www.vichealth.vic.gov.au/be-healthy/exercise-covid-19

BCCM COVID-19 FAQs 

https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/be-active-during-covid-19

https://headtohealth.gov.au/covid-19-support/covid-19 
 
https://headtohealth.gov.au/covid-19-support/covid-19 

https://www.makehealthynormal.nsw.gov.au/activity/workouts

Last night (29th March) the Prime Minister announced further restrictions on social gatherings and a six-month moratorium on evictions of commercial and residential tenancies. There were also other general updates which we have summarised below and how they will impact bodies corporate and owners corporations.

What the Latest Updates mean for Strata (29th March) 

  • There was an announcement from the Prime Minister regarding a moratorium of evictions on commercial and residential tenancies. We have included more information below and encourage you speak with your Letting Agent if this applies to you. Further details will come to light in the following days in regard to how each state and territory will enforce this. 
  • The Prime Minister strongly advised all individuals should stay at home unless they are collecting essential items from the supermarket or pharmacy, seeking medical assistance or are unable to work/learn from home. This means we will see another increase in the number of residents working from home. If you are utilising more data for work, online learning and streaming services, you may want to revisit your mobile and data plans to understand your options. 
  • The Prime Minister also advised anyone aged over 70yo, aged 60yo+ and with a pre-existing respiratory condition and Indigenous people aged 50yo+ should also stay at home at all times for their own safety as they are considered in the high-risk category. If this means you have difficulties getting essential items, consider the home delivery services of supermarket chains, home delivery food services such as ‘ubereats’ or ‘deliveroo’ as well as some ready-to-cook delivery services such as ‘Markey Spoon’ or ‘Hello Fresh’. (provide links) 
  • Public gatherings have been reduced to a maximum of 2 people (excluding people from the same household). What this means is you can meet or exercise with only one other support person or friend (again excluding household members). This includes Personal Trainers who can now only do 1:1 sessions with clients. Various exercise programs are available online if you are in quarantine or self-isolation. 

 A Few Recommendations 

Social Distancing and practising good personal hygiene are continually referenced by experts as the keys to ‘flattening the curve’.  

We encourage buildings with lifts to impose that they introduce a 2 person limit on people using the lifts and increased cleaning on high touch areas. A risk which has been identified is touching infected surfaces and then rubbing eyes or other parts of the face so try to push buttons with your elbows or the tip of an umbrella. Place a sign up next to the elevator informing people. 

Another precaution Committees can take is to limit the number of people allowed in other shared facilities which remain open – for example, limiting use of a rooftop area to 1 household/family unit at a time and ensuring surfaces are regularly cleaned after use. 

Latest Updates from the Prime Minister (29th March) 

The below information is directly from an official Federal Government site –  https://www.pm.gov.au/media/national-cabinet-statement 

Indoor and Outdoor Public gatherings 

National Cabinet agreed to limit both indoor and outdoor gatherings to two persons only.  

Exceptions to this limit include: 

  • People of the same household going out together; 
  • Funerals – a maximum of 10 people;  
  • Wedding – a maximum of 5 people; 
  • Family units.  

National Cabinet’s strong guidance to all Australians is to stay home unless for: 

  • shopping for what you need – food and necessary supplies; 
  • medical or health care needs, including compassionate requirements; 
  • exercise in compliance with the public gathering requirements; 
  • work and study if you can’t work or learn remotely. 

National Cabinet agreed that playgrounds, skate parks and outside gyms in public places will be closed. Bootcamps will be reduced to two persons, including the trainer.  

These measures will be in place from midnight 30th March 

Commercial and residential tenancies 

As part of its work on helping businesses hibernate, National Cabinet agreed that short-term intervention is needed for commercial tenancies. Work on this has begun, but there is more to do, including for residential tenancies.  

National Cabinet agreed to a moratorium on evictions over the next six months for commercial and residential tenancies in financial distress who are unable to meet their commitments due to the impact of coronavirus.  

Commercial tenants, landlords and financial institutions are encouraged to sit down together to find a way through to ensure that businesses can survive and be there on the other side. As part of this, National Cabinet agreed to a common set of principles, endorsed by Treasurers, to underpin and govern intervention to aid commercial tenancies as follows: 

  • a short term, temporary moratorium on eviction for non-payment of rent to be applied across commercial tenancies impacted by severe rental distress due to coronavirus; 
  • tenants and landlords are encouraged to agree on rent relief or temporary amendments to the lease; 
  • the reduction or waiver of rental payment for a defined period for impacted tenants; 
  • the ability for tenants to terminate leases and/or seek mediation or conciliation on the grounds of financial distress; 
  • commercial property owners should ensure that any benefits received in respect of their properties should also benefit their tenants in proportion to the economic impact caused by coronavirus; 
  • landlords and tenants not significantly affected by coronavirus are expected to honour their lease and rental agreements; and 
  • cost-sharing or deferral of losses between landlords and tenants, with Commonwealth, state and territory governments, local government and financial institutions to consider mechanisms to provide assistance. 

School Update (26th March) 

QLD 
On Thursday, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced that starting Monday 30 March schools in Queensland will be pupil free for a period of one week. This period will allow teachers to receive training in distance learning and using online resources.  
 
NSW  
Schools in New South Wales remain unaffected. Premier Gladys Berejiklian has expressed to parents/ guardians that they should keep children home if possible.  
 
The Government said that all schools in NSW were providing online learning options for the remainder of term one for parents that have chosen to keep their children home.  
 
VIC  
Schools in Victoria have already started their school holidays following the decision by Premier Daniel Andrews to bring the break forward.  
 
Term 2 is scheduled to begin on April 14 however, Mr Andrews expresses that they would not recommence if medical advice said they should not.  
 
With more students at home this means more people will be in Strata complexes. Therefore, it is important to ensure you are practicing the recommended hygiene procedures frequently. 
 
Click here for more information about each Australian state.  
 

Latest Updates – 24th March

The Prime Minster made a further public announcement last night (24th March) in which he addressed the concerning rise of community transmission of the Covid-19 virus and to stress that rigorous adherence to the previously announced social distancing requirements is the only way to ‘flatten the curve’ of infections. He also outlined that if this was not successful there may be further restrictions in the coming days and weeks. 

The Prime Minister also announced further nationwide restrictions on top of those announced on 22nd March. Some of these restrictions will have a direct impact on you, your families and your community. We are here to assist you so please do not hesitate to reach out to SSKB if you are feeling overwhelmed or confused. This is a fluid situation and if more changes and restrictions are made in the coming days and weeks, we will communicate these to you in a timely fashion.  

What that means for Strata 

We have read the Prime Minister’s Statement and the advice from the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) who advise our National Cabinet. Our recommendations are: 

  • All Bodies Corporate or Owners Corporation should close any shared facilities that come under the new Government restrictions. This includes gyms, indoor and outdoor pools and sporting activities. This will apply to apartment blocks and we encourage all owners follow these new restrictions. Your Building Manager or Community Manager will be able to assist in locking these facilities, sending correspondence to owners or putting signs up if required.  
  • If your community has any shared facilities not included in the restrictions, we highly encourage all owners to follow social distancing guidelines and sanitize high touch areas such as elevator lifts regularly. As more and more restrictions come in place, we will start to see more people in your communities working from home or in self-isolation so there may be an increased number of people using lifts etc. We encourage Committees to work closely with their Community Manager on a case by case basis.  
  • If you are currently in the process of selling your lot, Real estate auctions and open house inspections are included in the newest restrictions. Your Real Estate agent should be in contact with you regarding the same. Private inspections are currently allowed. 

We acknowledge that all buildings are different and have different facilities and spaces. Our general advice is to follow ALL government restrictions (gyms, pools, etc.), increase cleaning of high-touch areas (reception, foyers, lifts), follow social distancing recommendations and keep in regular contact with the community. Other considerations should be on a case by case basis so please don’t hesitate to reach out for advice. SSKB can utilise industry contacts if further advice is required.  

CLICK HERE TO KEEP UP TO DATE WITH PRIME MINISTER ANNOUNCEMENTS AND OFFICIAL RESTRICTIONS 

Below is a list of the additional closures and restrictions announced to take effect from 25th March at 11:59p.m. 

To close 

  • Beauty, nail, massage (excluding health related) and tattoo shops 
  • Real estate auctions and inspections 
  • Amusement parks, arcades, play centers 
  • Yoga, pilates, gyms, wellness centers 
  • Pools and sporting activities  
  • Galleries, libraries, community and recreational centers 

Open with restrictions  

  • Food courts in shopping centres – takeaway only 
  • Hairdressers and barbers – strict social distancing rules and 30 minutes per client  
  • Bootcamps and Personal Training sessions – Limited to 10 people with strict social distancing 
  • Weddings – a maximum attendance of 5 (celebrant, couple and witnesses) 
  • Funerals – a maximum attendance of 10  

Other 

  • Stay at home unless for – groceries, medial needs, exercise, work (if you are unable to work from home) 
  • Schools remain open until further notice 

For information on the total list of required closures and restrictions, click here 

Cases in Australia 

The Prime Minister media statement announced that Australia are leading the world in testing with more than 161,000 Australians tested and around 2,000 results coming back positive.  
 
The Prime Minister has stated that we will be living with this virus worldwide for at least 6 months, therefore it is imperative that each individual is taking the necessary precautions to reduce the spread of the virus.  

National cabinet has noted that there has been a significant spike in the amount of positive cases therefore, taking the advice from the government and health authorities is more important than ever.  

Ban on Travel 

Entry to Australia  

Leaders announced that the Commonwealth Government will implement a ‘do not travel’ ban on Australians travelling overseas under the Biosecurity ACT 2015.  

This rule has been implementing to decrease the amount of positive cases coming to Australia from overseas countries and to slow the spread worldwide.  
 
There are however exemptions for travelers including citizens ordinarily resident overseas, where travel is essential or necessary, where travel is in our national interest, and on compassionate and humanitarian grounds. This will be monitored by the Australian Boarder Force.  

We know that this is a time of great concern for many with the impacts of Covid-19 being felt across the world. It is important at this time that we continue to communicate with you, and we will be doing this frequently to comfort you that we are here to help and will be of service however we can.

Update from Prime Minister and How it impacts Strata – made 22nd March 2020 

The Prime Minister recently (March 22nd) announced that the following facilities will be restricted from opening from midday local time March 23, 2020: 

  • Pubs, registered and licenced clubs (excluding bottle shops attached to these venues), hotels (excluding accommodation) 
  • Gyms and indoor sporting venues 
  • Cinemas, entertainment venues, casinos, and night clubs 
  • Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery 
  • Places of worship and religious gatherings. (There is an exception for small funerals and weddings, provided they adhere to the 1 person per 4 square metre rule.)

We appreciate that many Bodies Corporate and Owners Corporations have a common property gym and we identify the above-mentioned Federal Government position where the Body Corporate gym can no longer be utilised. Other common property assets such as tennis courts, swimming pools, spas and saunas are not specifically mentioned however, we would conclude that spas, saunas and indoor pools fall under the definition of ‘indoor sporting venues’ whilst outdoor pools, tennis courts and other outdoor amenities fall outside this definition.  

Outdoor Pools 

  • It is our interpretation that outdoor swimming pools can remain open but note that they can still be regarded as a place of non-essential gathering and therefore must only have 1 person per 4sqm. 
  • According to centers for disease control and prevention, there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread to humans through the use of pools and hot tubs. Proper operation, maintenance, and disinfection (e.g. with chlorine and bromine) of pools and hot tubs should remove or inactivate the virus that causes COVID-19.  
  • Obviously, if you are required to self-quarantine, you should not be using shared areas such as a pool.

For the full statement made by the Prime Minister click here.

Letting pools and management rights advice 

Considerations may include: 

  • Reminding all residents, workers and guests of the importance of practicing appropriate hygiene (such as handwashing) and social distancing. 
  • Asking residents diagnosed with COVID-19—or who are required to self-isolate—to alert the body corporate so other residents can be informed and take appropriate precautions. You need to balance the requirement for reducing others’ exposure with the individual’s right to privacy. 
  • Airbnb has a section on their website about coronavirus. It recommends all hosts send an email to their prospective guests. The text can be found on their website – click here. 
  • Hand sanitiser stations are recommended. Some other preventative measures could be to provide gloves to prevent the spread of germs in the lifts and common areas or recommended to residents to use their knuckles when pressing lift buttons.  
  • It is also recommended to increase the cleaning of common areas. 

Tourism ban 

  • From 9pm 20 March 2020, all non-residents will be denied entry to Australia, in a bid to stop the spread of corona virus.  
  • There are however exemptions to the travel restrictions. You can travel to Australia is you are an Australian citizen or a permanent resident or are a New Zealand citizen usually residing in Australia. If you are an immediate family member who holds a temporary visa, you will need to provide evidence of your relationship. If you are travelling for a compassionate or compelling reason to Australia, you can apply for an exemption. 
  • While it’s changing everyday currently QLD, SA, NT, WA have closed their borders. So only residents can enter and are required to quarantine for 14 days upon return.  

With travel bans and strict restrictions in place, we understand that a lot of our clients will be negatively impacted by loss of income from the tourism industry.  We direct you to the following for more information and advice: 

There will be various issues that arise throughout the course of this pandemic and SSKB will seek to update our clients with any strata related advice and information from Government or professional sources. If you have any concerns, questions or wish for us to discuss a specific topic, please contact sskb@sskb.com.au and use the subject line “SSKB COVID-19 COMMUNICATION”.  

Helpful Links 

https://www.health.gov.au/news/health-alerts/novel-coronavirus-2019-ncov-health-alert

SSKB 

During this global coronavirus pandemic, our focus is on protecting the health and safety of our people and those in the communities in which we manage. We have a business continuity plan in place to ensure we are well placed to service our clients while protecting the health of our people. 

Meetings 

We will be actively reducing the number of face to face meetings and strongly encourage committees to use teleconference facilities to conduct their meetings. 

Other considerations are:  

  • Video conference; 
  • Committee votes outside the Committee Meeting (via email for VIC or *voc for QLD)
  • Postponing the meeting. 

Committee meetings 

  • It may be prudent for committees to avoid face-to-face meetings unless they are essential, and to practice appropriate hygiene and social distancing when meetings are held. 
  • There is no legislative reason why meetings cannot be held remotely; for example, by telephone, video conference (e.g via Microsoft Teams, skype and similar technologies). 
  • The need for a quorum at meetings does not mean that committee members need to be present in the same room. 
  • A committee can also decide to vote outside committee meetings. 

General meetings 

  • Bodies corporate, particularly in larger schemes, can consider deferring calling general meetings unless there is urgent or essential business to consider. 
  • Bodies corporate are able to seek approval from an adjudicator for annual general meetings to be held outside the legislative timeframe, and this may be an option to consider. Please read Practice Direction 19 (See paragraphs 17 – 19) for further information. 
  • Where meetings are held, it may be appropriate to encourage owners to submit a Proxy form or to submit voting papers rather than attending the meeting personally. 
  • While the legislation requires a minimum number of persons to be ‘present personally’ at a general meeting to form a quorum, this will generally only be one or two persons (depending on the size of the scheme). 
  • All other voters could submit written votes and potentially also participate in the meeting remotely (for example, by telephone, video conference, skype or similar technologies) if the body corporate is able to facilitate such participation. 
  • Provided that bodies corporate make reasonable endeavours to comply with the legislative requirements for holding general meetings, instances of non-compliance that do not affect the voting outcomes will be unlikely to affect the validity of meetings. 
  • The statutory capacity to approve expenditure above the committee spending limit with the written consent of all owners, may reduce the need to call a general meeting in some cases, particularly in smaller schemes. 
  • In schemes registered under the Small Schemes and Commercial Modules there is also a capacity to approve any general meeting motion with a vote outside a meeting. 

Relevant state specific information:

From SCA Victoria 

Click here for a link to the full recommendations on meetings from the SCA Victoria. 

From SCA New South Wales

Click here for a link to the full recommendations on meetings from the SCA New South Wales.

From SCA Queensland

Click here for a link to the full recommendations on meetings from the SCA Queensland.

Some Member Companies have already made the decision to defer AGMs or move to online technology to conduct meetings, but at some professional risk – SCAV is liaising with CAV and regulators on this. 

 As the number of cases of coronavirus increase and as Government advises social distancing, each Owners Corporation will need to consider mitigating risk factors, through cancellation or postponement of AGMs.  Factor in: 

  • Demographics and vulnerability of the attendees. 
  • Presence of confirmed or presumptive cases of coronavirus in the OC community. 
  • The ability to arrange for social distancing in the venue of choice; and 
  • The expected number of attendees at the AGM etc. 

Some meetings may be considered a low risk and OC Committees may decide to proceed as planned. If so, then your risk management should start with a COVID-19 Health Notice to be included in the meeting pack and for display at the meeting venue. 

If meetings do occur, we encourage members to implement preventative measures and precautions to ensure both staff and attendees are not infected. This is a necessary precaution to reduce the risk of virus spread, particularly in circumstances where attendees at meetings may be infected or vulnerable. We also note this is a rapidly escalating issue and it may be appropriate at a time to consider deferring all face to face meetings. 

Strata Committee Meetings 

We are aware of member businesses introducing precautionary policies to defer any non-essential meetings. This directly relates to strata committee and general meetings held on site or at office venues. Based on best practice proactive advice and preventative policies, we are encouraging our members to assess meetings on a case by case basis with a risk assessment and give consideration to deferring or arranging alternative attendance methods for face to face meetings if there is a risk of contamination. 

If meetings do occur, we encourage members to implement preventive measures and precautions to ensure both staff and attendees are not infected. This is a necessary precaution to reduce the risk of virus spread, particularly in circumstances where attendees at meetings may be infected or vulnerable. We also note this is a rapidly escalating issue and it may be appropriate at a time to consider deferring all face to face meetings. 

SCA (NSW) has briefed NSW Fair Trading on the potential impacts that may result from deferring meetings. We are also holding ongoing discussions regarding the broader impact on service providers and services to strata schemes. 

Self-Isolation 

We have worked with some communities who have organised volunteers to drop off groceries or other essential items to elderly or people in self-isolation in their building. If you would like to implement something like this, contact your Community Manager to work out the logistics. 

We encourage all owners to notify the committee or building manager if you are in self-isolation as a precautionary measure and to reach out if you are left without any support and need something like groceries. 

What if someone is not self-isolating if they should be? 

  • If someone is required to be in quarantine and does not, it is a criminal offence. This should be a Police issue, not a Body Corporate/Owners Corporation issue. A $13,000 find can be issued by the Police if someone does not self-isolate.  
  • You should try to provide evidence when calling the Police, don’t just call them because you think someone is breaking the rules.  

Precautions that can be taken in your building 

It is a legislative requirement in Queensland that Bodies Corporate must act responsibly. Similar legislation applies in Victoria and New South Wales. It is recommended that all Committees work on the basis that there may be someone infected within the building and take any necessary precautions. Individuals are urged to take a large amount of responsibility in following government guidelines. 

  • Install hand sanitizer at all lifts, reception areas etc. We understand supply is hard to get at the moment and are working on finding solutions/suppliers for our clients; 
  • If possible, use knuckles or elbows to press elevator buttons and to open doors; 
  • Install signs in the lifts, lobbies etc. (there are a number of free government downloads that can be printed and put up); 
  • Ensure all roll information is up to date. Give notices in the mailbox, under the door, via email etc. that outlines what precautions are being put in place by the Committee (hand sanitiser, extra cleaning, signs in the lifts). 

Useful information from BCCM 

https://www.vision6.com.au/em/message/email/view?a=55581&id=1476836&k=vM8psi6GzvlWP6_ZPPvT0qU8YXStWtYBQM6T1CcDX4c

Common Areas 

We encourage all owners to minimize use of any common areas or shared facilities to protect themselves and protect the community from the spread of the virus.  

The common property must still be maintained and in good condition.  

Cleaning 

The following document is the Australian Government Department of Health Cleaning guide. We highly encourage all cleaners, caretakers, building managers, strata managers to reference this when discussing cleaning plans. 

If Committees are concerned, ask your cleaning company to: 

  • Increase number of cleans, length of clean, what gets cleaned; and 
  • Send you their Coronavirus cleaning plan that outlines how they are handling the situation. 

Contractors 

Contractors, site inspections etc. may still be going and there is no set answer as each company appears to have a different response. 

We highly encourage all building managers, caretakers, facilities managers or strata managers to communicate with any contractors, trades etc. and advise of the following: 

  • Ask them to avoid close personal contact with any one on site; 
  • Sanitize hands and equipment if they are coming on site before and after conducting their duties; 
  • If they have been overseas or are feeling unwell, contact immediately and postpone the works – they should not attend the site; 
  • Bring their own pens/pencils if any signatures etc. are required; 
  • Avoid shaking hands; 

Finances 

  • Have conversations with owners if they can’t pay their levies before issuing demands. Some owners may have lost their jobs or only minimal hours each week or may rely on income from Airbnb and short-term letting guests.  You may wish to work with Committees and Owners to work out a payment plan or if waiving Penalty Interest / missed Discounts if appropriate at this time .  
  • If a large number of owners in your building’s income is largely impacted, it may be a good idea to postpone any non-essential major works as they will not have funds to pay levies. 

Building Manager 

  • If the Building Manager needs to self-isolate it would most likely be considered sick leave. They may have to organise a contractor to complete necessary work.  
  • Building managers should try to advise their buildings of any precautions they want to put in place, such as no contact, deliveries, extra cleaning etc.  

Airbnb 

Airbnb has a section on their website about coronavirus, it recommends all hosts send an email to their prospective guests. The text can be found on their website - click here.  

A message from SSKB regarding COVID-19

With the continued spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and the likelihood it will continue for a period of time, we would like to assure you that SSKB is well prepared for a range of outcomes to ensure our ongoing service delivery to our valued clients. The health and wellbeing of our staff and clients is paramount and we have already taken various measures to preserve this already and will continue to do so.

  • We are informing our staff daily via our intranet with any updates from the World Health Organisation and Australian Government
  • We have shared vital information about novel coronavirus, its symptoms, tips for reducing the likelihood of contracting the virus and reinforced the requirement for the practice of handwashing and general hygiene
  • We have advised any staff who feel at all unwell to remain at home
  • We are limiting domestic travel to essential travel only and advising our staff who do not feel comfortable to travel that they are not required to do so and we will assist them to find an alternative means to ensure service continuity such as teleconference or video conference
  • We have advised that we will enforce self-quarantine protocols for two weeks for any staff retuning from overseas holidays
  • We have informed clients with upcoming meetings that SSKB has the capacity to hold meetings via teleconference and video conference

We have a business continuity plan which has various levels and functions (such as remote working). We will continue to closely monitor the situation and will keep our staff and clients informed via email, our facebook page and our website with any changes in our operations.

Best regards

Daniel Herbert

Tips for Committees, Building Managers and Owners

  •  Install sanitiser outside all elevators and reception;
  •  Make disinfecting wipes available;
  •  Regular cleaning of common areas;
  •  Frequently clean hands by using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water;
  • When coughing and sneezing cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue
  • –throw tissue away immediately and wash hands;
  •  Avoid close contact with anyone who has fever and cough;
  •  If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early and share previous travel history with your health care provider;
  •  If visiting live markets in areas currently experiencing cases of novel coronavirus, avoid direct unprotected contact with live animals and surfaces in contact with animals.

SSKB Precautions

SSKB are taking the following precautions to ensure the health of our staff and clients is protected.

From a company perspective, we would like to ensure the health and safety of all our team members at all times.

With that in mind, each of our employees that return from travelling to a ‘hot spot’ city will be required to work from home for 2 weeks to ensure no symptoms appear.

Meeting Tips

SSKB cares for our clients and we wish to take a cautious position regarding the spread of the Coronavirus disease with respect to our scheduled meetings. We have respectfully asked that if clients have travelled overseas or are aware of being in contact with someone who has travelled overseas in the last 14 days that you make alternative arrangements to attending upcoming meetings.

Alternatives to personally attending the meeting can be:

  • Appointing a proxy;
  • Join the meeting via telephone;
  • Send an email to your Community Manager/Owners Corporation Manager containing issues; you want to raise that may be able to be considered via a VOC in the future;
  • Postponing the meeting;

If you will not be attending an upcoming meeting, please let your Community Manager/Owners Corporation Manager know at your earliest convenience.

Insurance for Hotels and Businesses Impacted

Hotels and other accommodation facilities see many tourists and guests checking in and out on a daily basis. Due to this, some hotels may have a case where a guest becomes infected with the virus.

In some instances, hotels may be required to temporarily close certain levels of the building to ensure the virus does not spread.

If this situation occurs, it is important to check with your insurer to see if your policy includes covers relating to Business Interruption such as Loss of Profits.

Tips for those in self-quarantine

The Australian Government Department of health have released the following instructions: “If you have been in, or transited through, mainland China, Iran, South Korea or Italy you need to self-quarantine for 14 days.”

We suggest the following for those in quarantine:

• Arrange with your employer if it is possible to work from home;

• If your child is self-quarantined ask if their school can email their school work;

• Keep to your normal daily routine as much as possible;

• Seek immediate medical attention if you begin to feel unwell;

• Keep in regular contact with others via phone or email.

If you become unwell and suspect you may have symptoms of coronavirus; you must seek medical attention.

Useful Links

If you wish to discuss any concerns further with your Community Manager, please do not hesitate to contact them at your earliest convenience or undertake your own research on this matter. Below are some useful links if you would like to conduct further research.

Australian Department of Health

Australian Department of Health – Simplified Chinese

Smart Traveler

Health Direct

Queensland Government

As always, SSKB is here to help your community navigate such an uncertain time to the best ability. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out to your manager or email us at sskb@sskb.com.au



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