Coronavirus (COVID-19) communique #3 (18 March)

I would like to bring you up to date on the issues discussed at the most recent meeting of Critical Incident Management Team (CIMT) regarding the Coronavirus (COVID-19). This team has been established to deliver this communique as the official communication from the Parish offering guidance and instruction regarding the Coronavirus. You can access previous communiques at the Parish website at www.stagnesparish.org.au.

Overall, I would like to reiterate that St Agnes’ Parish is not underestimating its impact on the local community in our decision-making process regarding the Coronavirus. This is why we need everyone in our Parish community to work together in mutual participation to exhibit positive behaviours as well as identifying and addressing any issues as they arise.

There have been some key announcements made since our last communique.

Only today, the Australian Government has introduced the highest restrictions on overseas travel advising people to not travel at all over this time. The Australian Government has announced that all travelers arriving or returning to Australia since Monday must isolate for a period of 14 days without exception. All staff and volunteers are expected to comply with these requirements before resuming work at the Parish. If you think you need to self-isolate and are unsure, please seek a medical opinion.

The Government has also introduced social distancing measures restricting the convening of non-essential gatherings of more than 100 people. At present, this does not include essential functions, including schools, universities and workplaces. We have just received news that Mass is cancelled for this weekend, but we are looking at all options for the ways in which we could celebrate Mass in the future.

In regards to our aged care services, the Government announced specific restrictions around staff and visitors entering an aged care facility. This includes previous guidelines precluding those who have recently returned from overseas, been in contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19, displaying flu-like symptoms and those who have not been vaccinated against influenza after 1 May. Specifically for visitors to our services, visits should be brief, limited to two people and conducted in a way that adheres to government social distancing guidelines. Click here for information on these restrictions.

Locally we are doing this, plus we have established single entry points for all of our services with accompanying directional signage and sanitising stations. Additionally, we intend to introduce temperature scanners to check the temperatures of anyone entering our aged care services. We are very conscious that our aged care and disability services look after people that are most at-risk and vulnerable to Coronavirus, which can have an unintended impact of social isolation. We are currently investigating ways to address this issue, which may include the use of technology solutions.

There is currently no Government-announced closure of our schools, although this decision will be revisited on Friday. We, and our schools, are in regular contact with the Department of Education and the Catholic Schools Office on any updates.

In regards to early education services, the Federal Government announced that families experiencing a loss of income may be eligible for the Additional Child Care Subsidy (temporary financial hardship). This subsidy is available for up to 13 weeks and, in most cases, the full cost of child care will be covered for those eligible. Click here for a fact sheet detailing this Federal Government support.

Ordering supplies such as masks, sanitiser and soap etc has been significantly impacted by the surge in demand due to COVID-19. However, our suppliers have indicated that while there is a delay, it does not mean that supplies are totally exhausted. They are still advising to place orders as required and will distribute them as they are replenished.

It is likely the CIMT will meet more regularly than weekly for the future (we will hold our second meeting for the week on Friday).

I thank you for your continued calmness, support and cooperation as we manage this rapidly changing and difficult situation.

Adam Spencer – Chief Executive Officer