COVID-19 Update 30 March 2020
The Prime Minister, the Hon. Scott Morrison MP, has announced further social distancing measures to protect the Australian community from the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Moreover, Victorian Premier, Hon. Daniel Andrews has also confirmed that we have now moved to Stage 3 restrictions.
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.
If people breach these directions, they face on-the-spot fines of $1,652 for individuals and $9,913 for businesses. Larger fines can also be issued through the courts. How would this impact our church:
- Live streaming from churches would be reviewed and other alternative measures would be followed. E.g. Live streaming from home
- Only essential tasks, for example, maintenance of the church building are permitted provided adhering to the social distancing requirements limited to two people from different households. Volunteers undertaking the maintenance tasks will be covered under the Public Liability Insurance Policy as per normal procedure.
- Any changes to the above will be communicated accordingly
COVID-19 Update 20 March 2020
New Government Requirements for Indoor Gatherings
Prime minister, Scott Morrison has just announced new social distancing requirements for indoor gatherings – For gatherings of fewer than 100 people in an enclosed space, the Government is now recommending four square metres per person.
ABC News reports Scott Morrison said “What we are now moving to is an arrangement for gatherings of less than 100, is that they would be four square metres provided per person in an enclosed space, in a room. So that’s 2m by 2m. So, for example, if you’ve got a room, if you’ve got a premise, if you’ve got a meeting room or something like that, that’s 100 square metres, then you can have 25 people in that room.”
Please make sure that if you do hold any gatherings, you apply social distancing and hygiene practices as recommended by the Australian Government:
- No more than 1 person per 4 square metres of space
- maintain a distance of 1.5 metres between attendees
- Hand hygiene products and suitable waste receptacles need to be available, with frequent cleaning and waste disposal
The pre-existing bans restricting indoor gatherings of over 100 people and mass outdoor gatherings to 500 people will remain in place.
COVID-19 Update 18 March 2020
- An unprecedented, indefinite level-four travel ban is in place for the entire world. The travel advice for all Australians wanting to go overseas is “Do Not Travel”.
- There is a ban on non-essential indoor gatherings of 100 people or more. Australians are still advised to stay away from non-essential outdoor gatherings of 500 or more.
COVID-19 Update 17 March 2020 @ 6 PM
In light of the COVID-19 pandemic the world is currently facing, the Australian Union Conference Presidents Council have today recommended, and subsequently the Victorian Conference Administration Committee have resolved that all Adventist Churches in Victoria be closed until the end of April 2020 – to be reviewed late April.
For more information, please refer to Australian Union & Victorian Conference Press Release (17 March 2020) regarding church closures.
COVID-19 Update 15 March 2020 @ 6 PM
Anyone arriving in Australia from overseas will be forced to self-isolate for 14 days, while lockdown measures similar to those in place in European countries remain on the table.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says the new travel measure will be in place from midnight (AEDT) as the Federal Government deals with the coronavirus outbreak.
What does this mean for us (Church members, visitors and employees)?
- Reassess travel plans
- Employees to make sure to inform and get clearance from Vic Conference HR Manager: email@example.com
- When coming back, inform HR manager and isolate yourself for 14 days following the Home Isolation Guidance and Instructions
- Church members upon arrival from overseas, please inform your local church pastor or church elder of your arrival and follow the Home Isolation Guidance and Instructions
- After the isolation of the 14 days, those who develop similar symptoms and feeling unwell, they are recommended to call Central Patient COVID-19 Triage Hotline –1800 020 080 . This hotline is essential to the effective implementation of the MBS Telehealth measures, the primary care respiratory clinics and existing private patient-GP call arrangements
Why this is important?
- People who would otherwise present at hospital emergency departments or GP clinics – and risk spreading COVID-19 – can also be given advice over the phone by trained health professionals.
- Depending on their circumstances, people will be advised to attend a public hospital respiratory clinic, a primary
- care respiratory clinic, to self-isolate at home, to seek a medical practitioner telehealth consultation or to take no
- further action. This will help reduce the risk of transmission and conserve Personal Protective Equipment.
- The hotline will also provide facilities to support telehealth consultations – where providers or patients may not have access to the appropriate ICT – and maintain a comprehensive national directory of available health services
Please read COVID Hotline Facts Sheet
Preparing for potential church closure FAQs
When a church initially has a member or a staff who has been in attendance at the church that tests positive, the entire church will close for 24 hours while the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) investigates and sets forth a plan for any further precautionary measures that the church must take to contain exposure, which may result in additional closure. During this time, the entire church building shall be disinfected in accordance with guidelines from the Department of Health. Members and staff may also be placed in voluntary self-quarantine for 14 days.
Travel Insurance Advice
Travel restrictions have been issued for all travel to and from all of mainland China and Iran due to the spread of a new coronavirus strain (COVID-19). For more information, please visit:
Coronavirus – Info for our Travellers – Risk Management Services
Preparations and Preventions
- Wash hands often with soap and running water, for at least 20 seconds. Dry with paper towel or hand dryer
- Try not to touch your eyes, nose or mouth
- Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. If you don’t have a tissue cough or sneeze into your upper sleeve or elbow
- Isolate yourself at home if you feel sick. If you take medication, ensure you have adequate supplies
- Phone your GP first if you need medical attention. They will tell you what to do
- Don’t wear a face mask if you are well
- Get the flu shot (available April).
- Click here to see 10 ways to reduce your risk of Coronavirus
General food safety advice
Previous experience with outbreaks of illness due to MERS-CoV, SARS-CoV and other respiratory viruses (e.g. avian influenza) suggest that novel coronavirus may have been transmitted from animals to humans.
Transmission through food is unlikely and there is no evidence of this occurring with novel coronavirus to date, however investigations to identify the source of the outbreak, the extent of spread of the infection, and mode(s) of transmission are continuing.
Everyone should practice good hygiene when preparing and handling food.
The World Health Organization (WHO) advises people to:
- Wash hands regularly
- Cover your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing
- Thoroughly cook meat
- Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness, such as coughing and sneezing
Potluck Lunches and Agape Feasts:
- If serving food, use disposable cutlery wrapped in serviettes. Avoid uncovered cutlery in open baskets that people dip into and search through before picking up.
- Use gloves when serving food, and beverages both hot and cold.
- Have servers serve the food instead of individuals serving themselves where everyone is touching the serving spoons.
- Serve more single wrapped or packaged items where possible.
- Should a significant breakout of the virus be declared, potluck lunches and agape feasts should be avoided.
- Take precautions to limit the spread of disease by not sharing common vessels for food and drink
- Giving adequate time for attention to hygiene practices before and after the communion.
- Wash hands after foot washing for 20 seconds and dry thoroughly.
- Pastors and elders breaking and distributing the emblems (bread and wine) are advised to wash hand as indicated above and use a hand sanitizer.
- Practice proper disposal of communion cups and use gloves.
- If Pastors, Elders, Deacons or Deaconesses are suffering from a cold or flu symptoms, they should not be serving communion.
- Individual pre-filled communion cups (including wafers) are available as per pic below $59.99 per 100. Buy communion cups from Koorong
Preparation Ideas for Churches
- Review your church’s emergency operations plans and communication plans in the context of a pandemic
- Remind your congregation that rumour control is essential. Please get information from trusted sources like state health officials and The Department of Health and Human Services website
- the government published the Australian Health Sector Emergency Response Plan which provides an overview of the national approach and operational plan