COVID-19 Common Property Areas & Shared Facilities
Shared facilities can now open so long as restrictions are in place to prevent the spread of COVID 19.
We advise to proceed with caution.
The NSW Fair Trading COVID-19 guidelines were updated the week ending Friday 29 May 2020 stating that each scheme is to make its own risk assessment. If adequate measures cannot be implemented to ensure personal safety, then facilities should remain closed.
They also advise that if there are concerns regarding common area hygiene, the strata manager or strata committee should be approached.
The decision to open your shared facilities rests with you as owners.
As every person’s health is the ultimate focus, extreme caution is vital in determining what would be considered reasonably adequate to comply with restrictions on:
- physical distancing
- hygiene measures
Fair Trading’s guidelines flag the exposure of the owners corporation to legal liability claims.
Many committees have decided to defer opening facilities to one month after the easing of the measures. The reasoning is to observe and evaluate the success of different measures commercial premises have put in place.
We have compiled a list of considerations to assist in managing restrictions in facilities. The list is not exhaustive and as this is an unprecedented situation, we cannot refer you to legislation or best practice. We will update this list with further advice as it becomes known.
A limitation on numbers, based on the ‘one person per four square metres’ rule, must be first determined for each facility. However, managing both the limitation and physical distancing rules is difficult given that most facilities are unmonitored.
Considerations for evaluating whether facilities can be safely opened include:
- Can numbers be restricted?
- Placing time limits on the use.
- Using a booking system.
- Determining that residents should actively use the COVID App if they wish to use the facilities
- Having a sign-in register at each facility where residents must record their details (as has become the practice in restaurants).
- Clear signage stating 1.5-metre minimum must be adhered to, and the number of persons allowed in the facility at any one time.
- Using social distancing markers.
Hygiene & cleaning
NSW Fair Trading guidelines state that common areas should be cleaned more frequently with a focus on points of contact. Cleaning practices must be in line with the Department of Health cleaning & disinfection principles for COVID-19.
Your scheme is likely to have already adopted more stringent cleaning and disinfection methods and might already be using posters and communications to assist in containing the spread of the virus. Either way, we encourage you to read the Principles to gain assurance that all possible hygiene measures have been adopted for common areas.
Communication of measures
NSW Fair Trading has also stated that proper communication strategies are to be established that consider the diverse communities that reside in strata and community schemes.
As such due consideration should be given to:
- Multiple rather than one mode of communication – email, noticeboards, and hard copies.
- Offering translations into other languages.
- Communicating how residents can raise an idea or concern, and
- What standards will be adopted to allow for a prompt and appropriate reply to matters raised by residents?
Given the risk to personal safety, we strongly recommend that the following is formalised via a committee meeting:
- What measures are being introduced and why.
- What signage is being introduced.
- What communication strategies are to be used with consideration to your scheme’s diversity.
- How suggestions and/or concerns from residents will be dealt with.
Your Strata Plus strata manager continues to be here to assist you through these unprecedented times.
Stay safe and healthy.
The Strata Plus Team
2 June 2020