Reducing the Spread in Strata
With roughly fifteen per cent (more than 1 million people) of NSW’s population living in apartments and sharing entries, lifts, garbage areas, air conditioning and the likes, the strata community must take particular caution to further prevent the spread, especially given the highly infectious nature of the Delta variant.
The Delta strain of COVID-19 — behind the state’s lockdown — is passed to people twice as often as the strain previously considered most viral, the Alpha variant.
The COVID situation in NSW is constantly evolving. We will update this page with any changes to the below guidelines and any legislation changes that impact strata and community schemes.
Update: 20 October 2021
Masks are still mandatory in all common property areas of residential strata premises in NSW. NSW Health has just released some new posters to assist owners corporations communicating to residents and visitors. There are both blue and white copies for print and digital distribution available:
Update: 11 October 2021
From 11 October 2021, new rules are in place for fully vaccinated people in NSW (and those with a medical exemption). Non vaccinated people are still subject to restrictions. You can access the full rules on the NSW Health site:
A quick summary of the new rules
For both vaccinated and non vaccinated people:
- Mask in indoor spaces, including common areas must still be worn (this applies to both vaccinated and non vaccinated people)
- You must continue to check in with the Services NSW app or provide your details upon entering a premise
For vaccinated people:
- If you are fully vaccinated you can participate in an outdoor sport and exercise gathering of up to 20 people. You can have 10 fully vaccinated visitors to your house provided your household is also fully vaccinated (those over 16 years)
- If you are fully vaccinated you can visit retail premises or business that provides goods and services, a hairdresser, beauty salon or massage premises, an entertainment facility, a place of worship and hospitality venues provided you follow the rules: carry vaccination evidence, check-in and follow the face mask rules.
- Construction and renovations across NSW can commence or continue.
- For rules about renovations, repairs, maintenance and cleaning at your home, follow the rules for visitors to a home.
- If you are fully vaccinated, you can attend an outdoor event, so long as the capacity limit is not exceeded.
- You can work anywhere in NSW (a travel registration is not required) if a workplace can open, it may need to follow the rules for COVID-19 Safe Check-in
- Weddings and funerals in NSW may have up to 100 people who are fully vaccinated.
Short term/holiday accommodation
If you are fully vaccinated you can take a holiday outside the local government area you live in.
- If you live in a local government area in Greater Sydney (including the Central Coast, Blue Mountains, and Wollongong local government areas) you cannot travel outside Greater Sydney for holidays or recreational visits including day trips.
- If you live outside Greater Sydney, you cannot enter Greater Sydney for a holiday or recreational visits including day trips inside Greater Sydney. You can take a holiday in any local government area outside of Greater Sydney.
- You can visit a holiday home or short-term accommodation with your household or up to 10 fully vaccinated people.
For people who are not fully vaccinated
- If you are over the age of 16 years and are not fully vaccinated you cannot visit another person’s place of residence, except in limited circumstances (same rules apply as in lockdown)
- If you are not fully vaccinated you are allowed to visit a home – and have a person visit your home – for caring and compassionate reasons
- If you are not fully vaccinated you can participate in a gathering for sport or exercise with one other person or with your household.
- If you are not fully vaccinated you cannot visit a gym or indoor recreation facility.
- If you are not fully vaccinated you can gather with one other person or with your household outdoors
- If you are not fully vaccinated you cannot attend an outdoor event.
- If you are not fully vaccinated, you can only visit critical retail premises (such as supermarkets, post office, pet supplies, petrol stations, and banks. For a full list visit NSW Health)
- If you are not fully vaccinated you cannot visit a retail hairdresser, beauty salon, massage premises, a hospitality venue, entertainment facilities, or a place of worship.
- If you are not fully vaccinated you can only attend a small wedding service (up to 11 people)or a small funeral (up to 10 people)
- If you are not fully vaccinated you cannot take a holiday outside the local government area you live in and you can only use a holiday home or short-term accommodation with people who are from your household.
Rules on work for people not fully vaccinated
- If you live in Greater Sydney and are not fully vaccinated and it is not reasonably practicable for you to work from home, you can go to work, so long as it is not at a business re-opening at 70%.
- If you live in regional and rural NSW and are not fully vaccinated and if you have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine your employer must allow you to work from home if is reasonably practicable to do so.
- If you have not had any doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, you must work from home if it is reasonably practicable to do so. Your employer must require you to work from home unless it is not reasonably practicable to do so.
- If you have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and you are required to attend your place of work you can go to work.
- From 1 November 2021, you must be fully vaccinated to go to work.
Update: 6 October 2021
From the Monday after NSW hits the 70% (aged 16 and over) double-dose vaccination target. Restrictions will ease for fully vaccinated people. This includes:
- Up to 10 visitors are allowed in your home at any one time (visitor limits don’t apply for children under the age of 12).
- Small outdoor gatherings and recreation are permitted with up to 20 people (a 2-person limit for people who are not fully vaccinated).
- Visitors to residents in aged care facilities and disability homes are permitted in line with their policies.
- Occupied construction reopens (including cleaning, maintenance, renovations to buildings and other indoor trade works)
- Hospitality reopens with a density limit for up to 20 people per booking
- Non-critical retail reopens with density limits (people who are not fully vaccinated can only access non-critical retail via Click & Collect).
- Personal services (including hairdressers, spas, beauty and nail salons, tattoo and massage parlours) reopen with density limits for up to 5 clients.
- Schools reopen with Level 3 COVID-19 safety measures
People under the age of 16 who are not fully vaccinated are allowed unaccompanied in their workplaces and all outdoor settings, but must be with a fully vaccinated member of their household in hospitality venues (unless collecting takeaways), entertainment facilities, major recreation facilities and places of worship.
COVID Guidance for Strata Committee Members
Strata committees should devise a COVID plan to prevent the spread of the virus within their community. If multiple people in an apartment building have been identified as covid positive, the building may need to be temporarily evacuated to disinfect shared living spaces so it’s important committees can respond to owners about the correct procedure to follow.
Strata committees are responsible for ensuring that mandatory mask posters are visible at every entry point of the building.
Owners corporation has a legal obligation to keep the strata roll updated. Strata committees should ensure the contact details of owners, or their tenant’s details are known to, and up to date on the strata roll to facilitate effective and immediate communication, and assist NSW Health for contact tracing if required.
High Covid-19 risk premises
An apartment building may be declared to be a “high Covid-19 risk premises” if at least one dwelling houses a person diagnosed with Covid-19 or a person who is a close contact of a positive case. The Ministerial declaration is for a maximum period of 14 days but can be re-issued. This could lead to lockdowns longer than 14 days if transmission occurs and more cases are detected, as has already happened in several buildings. The orders apply to all residents and visitors at the time of the declaration. No one is to enter the building unless permitted. The Police and Health Practitioners will enter to provide medical care, testing and vaccination. A person may also enter at the direction of the Police.
NSW Govt communication toolkit for strata
The NSW Govt has released a communication toolkit for strata.
Download the toolkit: NSW Govt Communication Toolkit for Strata Bodies and Building Managers (ppt)
On 23 August, it became mandatory to wear masks outside, except when exercising. In local government areas where the stay at home rules apply, when you leave home you must carry a face mask with you at all times.
On 13 July 2021, the NSW Government made it mandatory to wear a fitted face mask in indoor areas of common property in strata-titled, community titled, and company titled property in Greater Sydney. This has now been extended to all regional areas affected by Stay at Home Orders. For more information on the rules for face masks, visit nsw.gov.au
Strata committees should ensure mandatory mask posters are visible on building entrances:
The NSW Government signed off on a new Public Health Order and as of 23 July. If you cannot wear a face mask because of a disability, physical or mental health illness or condition, you must carry;
- A medical certificate or letter signed by a registered health practitioner or a registered NDIS practitioner or a statutory declaration.
- Proof of exemption and identity
If you are in a situation where masks are mandatory, a regulatory officer can ask you to confirm the lawful reason you are not wearing a face mask.
If asked by NSW Police, you must show them proof of exemption or your medical certificate. You must also carry and produce evidence of your name and address to a police officer if requested.
A statutory declaration will require you to identify your disability, physical or mental health illness or condition and declare:
- you have a physical or mental health illness or condition or disability and
- the physical or mental health illness or condition, or disability makes wearing a fitted face-covering unsuitable.
Officers will issue a penalty notice if you clearly refuse to wear a mask without a lawful reason.
Currently, it is not mandatory for residential premises to have QR Code check-ins. However, we strongly encourage that strata schemes register their building to record visitors, suppliers, and contractors.
QR Code Check-ins are mandatory for commercial strata plans. For more information on QR codes, visit nsw.gov.au
Waste management and cleaning services
Regular cleaning followed by disinfecting common areas in apartment buildings is the best prevention to stop the spread of COVID. Cleaning doesn’t kill germs so it’s imperative that cleaning is followed by routine disinfecting.
Committees should provide their cleaning companies with an updated scope of works detailing any additional cleaning and disinfecting requirements, itemising frequently touched surface areas that require routine disinfecting such as light switches, garbage areas, door handles, intercom buttons, service room doors, lifts, lift buttons, letterboxes, railings, entry points from the car park, lobby, common area facilities such as toilets, pools, gyms etc.)
Renovations, repairs, maintenance and cleaning rules
For rules about renovations, repairs, maintenance and cleaning at your home, follow the rules for visitors to a home which are:
If all members of the household who are aged 16 years or over are fully vaccinated, you can have up to 10 fully vaccinated visitors to your place of residence.
You cannot have a person aged over 16 years who is not fully vaccinated visit your place of residence, except in limited circumstances.
People under 12 are not counted as visitors.
Even if you are fully vaccinated, you must not visit a place of residence if:
- any person at the place of residence who is aged over 16 years and is not fully vaccinated
- if there are more than 10 other visitors at the place of residence
- if any of the visitors at a place of residence who are aged over 16 years are not fully vaccinated.
Workers are not counted as visitors. Workers are authorised to visit homes whether or not they or the household are fully vaccinated.
Construction and renovations across NSW can commence or continue. Construction sites do not have to comply with capacity limits.
The rules for construction sites are the same whether you are fully vaccinated or not fully vaccinated. You can enter a construction site in NSW.
You must check-in with the Service.NSW app or provide your contact details to the occupier of the site and follow the face mask rules.
The occupier of a construction site must:
- have and comply with a COVID-19 Safety plan on a construction site in Greater Sydney
- ensure all people who enter the construction site check in with the Service.NSW app or provide contact details to the occupier on construction sites in NSW.
Owners corporations have a legal obligation to ensure their annual fire safety inspection is carried out. If a person has COVID-19, a fire safety inspection of their lot should be deferred until the resident has obtained medical clearance. We recommend planning your fire safety inspections ahead of time to ensure there is adequate time in case there is a delay in obtaining access to some units.
- the following work must continue on fire safety systems and features during the lockdown period; routine service work; annual assessment; and rectification maintenance.
- all work must be carried out using appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) and safety procedures;
- base building fire systems should be assessed, but common sense and health considerations should be taken concerning servicing single occupancy units (SOUs), and
- where access cannot be obtained practitioners should work out alternative arrangements in the short term to satisfy themselves that systems are performing, and arrange to reinspect at a later time.
Electronic voting and meeting
As of 21 July 2021, owners corporations and community land associations are once again able to validly meet and vote electronically without having previously adopted a resolution in this regard. The existing regulations on executing documents without the common seal and serving notice of meetings by email have been retained.
These changes have been made through two new COVID-19 regulations, published just now at the NSW Legislation website as follows:
- Community Land Management Amendment (COVID-19) Regulation (No 2) 2021
- Strata Schemes Management Amendment (COVID-19) Regulation (No 2) 2021
These regulations will be in force until the end of 20 January 2022.
Maintaining harmony in your strata scheme
Living in an apartment means that we are all a lot closer and things like noises and smells have a greater impact. Our mental health can also be put to the test with added stresses such as balancing working from home with homeschooling, a business closure, loss of income, or perhaps you’re a shift worker who is struggling to sleep due to the increase of noise.
For these reasons, it’s never been more important to be mindful of your behaviours and their impact on your neighbour as everyone has a right to the peaceful enjoyment of one’s home and we have to work together to achieve this. We have created a video called Strata Harmony, which can be found on our homepage. The video provides some guidance on maintaining harmony.
Should common property facilities remain open during a lockdown?
From 11 October, Owners Corporations can reopen shared facilities like BBQ areas, pools and gyms to vaccinated residents. A completed and registered COVID-safe plan, signage, mandatory mask-wearing and the one person per 4sqm rule apply.
Owners corporations may decide to keep the facilities closed until 1 December if they cannot adequately administer the safe use of these facilities.
The impact of stay at home orders on infrastructure and resources
The current stay at home orders has a large impact on resources in apartment buildings. There is more rubbish, more recycling, higher electricity, gas, water usage which impact levies. More strain on infrastructure may lead to more maintenance. Strata committees should work with their strata manager to manage additional cleaning and garbage services, and higher costs associated with buildings operating at capacity.
In addition, residents may also come under financial hardship from their inability to work or open their businesses.
The financial impact on schemes will vary depending on the proportion of affected owners and the scheme’s financial position. Individual schemes must decide the most appropriate response to arrears and hardship requests.
Committee COVID Checklist
- Do cleaners have an updated scope of works to allow for covid preventative cleaning and disinfecting?
- Are there mandatory mask posters located on the entries of the building?
- Are common property facilities closed? Do they have a visible closed sign on the entries?
- Are there hand sanitiser dispensers located in the lobbies?
- Do we have a procedure in place for the collection of rubbish for self-isolating units? or if the building has to go into lockdown?
- Do we have enough in the administrative fund to cover an increase in utility bills and required maintenance costs?
- Is the strata roll up to date? If not, how can we encourage residents to provide their details to facilitate communication?
- Have we decided, by way of resolution, on our status for payment plans and/or waiving of interest for overdue levy contributions?
- What scheduled works should go ahead and what should be deferred?
- Is there a large portion of non-English speaking residents in our building? Do we need to translate important notices?
- Do we have a plan in place if our building needs to be evacuated for deep cleaning?
Visit our legislation page for the latest Public Health Orders
Visit our Guidance for Strata Residents page for more info
Visit our COVID financial assistance page
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