Your questions answered
Multi-dwelling properties with shared facilities guidelines
What powers do private strata, body corporates or owner corporations have to close common property and communal facilities?
Under the current health directions, a person who owns, controls or operates a physical recreation facility must not operate that facility. This includes indoor recreations such as common property gyms, saunas spas and in residential properties.
Common property swimming pools in multi-dwelling apartments must remain closed. Private swimming pools only apply to single family residences.
What does the ‘four-square metre’ rule mean?
To maintain physical distancing requirements, there must be enough space that equates to one person per four square metre.
This is used to calculate the total number of people you should aim to have in an area of the building at any one time. The size of your premises means you may provide advice to limit number of people occupying that area. For example, if your facility has a shared floor space of 20 square metres you can aim to have a maximum of five residents in that space at any one time.
What are the most important things I can do to reduce the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) in my building?
Communication to residents is critical – reinforce the messages of good hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette (such as coughing or sneezing into a tissue or your elbow), physical distancing of at least 1.5 metres, and only leaving home with a face mask for a permitted reason.
Are residential buildings required to apply the ‘four square metre’ rule to all communal areas?
Building managers for residential accommodation are not required to apply the ‘four square 'four square metre' rule outlined in the restrictions. However, certain facilities (if located in an area of Victoria where they are permitted to remain open) are required to apply the ‘four square metre’ rule. These include facilities such as indoor physical recreation facilities, activity centres, libraries and cinemas.
Even where it is not a legal requirement, operators are encouraged to apply this rule wherever possible for the health and safety of all residents, staff, visitors and contractors. It is recommended to have hand sanitiser readily available in communal areas, entrances and exits.
Will the Victorian Government provide downloadable signage that I can place at the facility on physical distancing and expected staff and resident behaviours?
Additional signage provided by the Victorian Government can be downloaded at:
How often should surfaces be cleaned?
Cleaning and disinfecting common contact surfaces will help to slow the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Where possible, this should be done at least twice daily for high-touch surfaces. For essential shared facilities such as shared bathrooms in rooming houses, even more frequent cleaning may be required in order to keep the area clean. Surfaces and fittings should also be cleaned immediately when visibly soiled and after any spillage.
- Common contact surfaces include:
- Lift buttons
- Door and cupboard handles
- Tables and chairs (including underneath)
- Kitchen and food contact surfaces
How should surfaces be cleaned and disinfected?
You need to clean and disinfect surfaces; both steps are essential. The first step is cleaning, which means wiping dirt and germs off a surface. You can use common household detergent products for cleaning, they are stocked at supermarkets.
Cleaning alone does not kill germs. The next step is to disinfect the surface. Disinfection means using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. Again, supermarkets stock common household disinfection products – it is important to use products that are labelled “disinfectant” and to follow the instructions on the label. You can find more information at Preventing infection in the workplace.
I cannot restrict access to some non-essential facilities (e.g. an open-aired swimming pool or barbecue). How can I close this area off to residents?
If access to non-essential communal facilities cannot be restricted by locking them up or removing them, then property managers must use tape or signage to indicate that those facilities are closed.
Visitors to the home and building
Under the current public health directions, Victorians cannot have social visitors to their home. This means you cannot make social visits to friends and family. Residents cannot have any visitors to their home other than those providing care or an essential service. Rules regarding visitors to the home also apply to neighbours or other residents in the same property.
Delivery drivers and contractors
In order to minimise the number of non-residents entering the building, residents who are receiving deliveries of goods, including groceries, home delivered food, or any other package, should be instructed to pick up the package from the ground floor entry, unless they are under directions to self-isolate or quarantine at home.
Record keeping measures must be in place when permitted activities are undertaken in multi-unit dwellings. This involves collecting records of all workers, subcontractors, customers and clients attending the work premises for 15 minutes or longer.
Each property could also consider requesting that non-residents ‘sign-in’ to the building when attending for more than 15 minutes, providing their first name and a contact phone number, where non-residents consent to this. Where properties keep a record, personal details should be kept securely. Information collected should also include the date and time at which the person attended the facility and, if applicable, the room number they visited. Where records are kept, these records should be kept for 28 days and then destroyed.
Visitors should be requested to maintain a distance of at least 1.5 metres from others. This should be actively monitored by staff where possible. Signs could be installed at major queuing locations, like lifts, reminding visitors and staff to maintain 1.5 metres from one another.
How will you enforce compliance?
Victoria Police may conduct spot checks at multi-dwelling residential buildings to ensure compliance with the directions of the Chief Health Officer.
What are the penalties for not complying?
Police can issue on the spot fines of up to $1,652 for individuals and up to $9,913 for businesses for:
- Refusing or failing to comply with the emergency directions
- Refusing or failing to comply with a public health risk power direction
- Refusing or failing to comply with a direction by the Chief Health Officer to provide information.
Bigger fines of up to $20,000 for individuals and $100,000 for businesses are possible through the courts.