Business and employees

Last update: 26 Jun 2020 11:58am

All businesses and workplaces are now permitted to operate. All businesses operating are required to implement measures to meet the minimum COVID-19 safety standards and record this in a COVID-19 Safety plan. For more information go to COVID-19 Safe Workplaces Framework.

The number of people permitted at businesses/activities (other than households) is now determined by the density of the area, up to a maximum of:

  • 250 people for an undivided space in an indoor premises; and
  • 500 people in an undivided space outdoors.

Maximum density limit is one person per 2 square metres.

Where the number of people permitted according to the density limit is less than the gathering limit, the lower number applies.

All people in any single undivided space count towards the maximum number of people permitted. For example, staff in a restaurant; spectators at a pool; and athletes and coaches at a sporting facility are all counted within the maximum number of people permitted in that space.

For mixed use venues with multiple indoor or outdoor spaces, the gathering cap (250 people for indoor, or 500 people for outdoor) applies separately to each single undivided space. For example, a large hotel with multiple, separate indoor spaces (eg conference room, bar, restaurant, foyer, beer garden), is permitted to have up to 250 people for each of these spaces (the density limit applies).

Exclusions

The limits outlined above do not apply to the following specified premises, but the number of people on these premises should not exceed the total number specified in the occupancy permit for the premises under the Building Act 2016. The specified premises are:

  • Airports and premises used for public or commercial transport
  • Medical or health service facilities, including veterinary facilities
  • Disability or aged care facilities
  • Prisons, correctional facilities, youth justice centres
  • Courts or tribunals
  • Parliament
  • Schools, universities, education institutions, childcare facilities, child and family centres
  • Premises that deliver services and support to disadvantaged community members eg those providing homeless accommodation, boarding houses, emergency/social housing, child safety services, foodbanks, employment services, and migrant and refugee assistance
  • Indoor and outdoor spaces where people are transiting through
  • Emergency services.

Read more about Gatherings, density limits and physical distancing.

Additional requirements

  • Patrons must be seated in premises where alcohol is sold, meaning activities that are not seated (eg pool, dancing, karaoke, darts) are not permitted. Seated activities, such as quiz nights and bingo, are allowed, as long as patrons remain seated for these activities.
  • Where practicable, business operators, staff, volunteers and attendees should maintain a distance of 1.5 metres from other people.
  • The maximum number of people permitted on a premises includes staff, volunteers, children and babies.
  • Indoor sport, recreation and exercise facilities must have at least one employee (or other person responsible for the premises) present at the facility at all times while it is being used.

Last update: 21 May 2020 3:47pm

Financial support

State Government financial support

The Tasmanian Government is providing further support and economic stimulus to help businesses affected by COVID-19. See Stimulus and support for more information.

Australian Government financial support

Information about Australian Government support for businesses is available on the Treasury website.

Where to get help

National Debt Helpline

The National Debt Helpline's (1800 007 007) financial counsellors provide free, independent and confidential advice to help you manage your debts or negotiate with creditors. The National Debt Helpline website also has step-by-step guides and useful information on how to deal with specific types of debts.

Business Tasmania

If your business has been impacted by coronavirus, you are encouraged to contact Business Tasmania on 1800 440 026 to discuss your situation and register your impact. You can also fill out the online form on the Business Tasmania website.

Tourism Tasmania

Information for Tasmanian tourism operators is available on the Tourism Tasmania website.

Last update: 11 Aug 2020 9:46am

This information has been developed to assist commercial tenants and landlords to understand changes to commercial tenancies as a result of COVID-19 emergency.

On 9 April 2020, the Premier issued a Notice under section 22 of the COVID-19 Disease Emergency (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020.

Immediate halt to terminations for unpaid rent or other moneys for certain commercial tenants

A landlord cannot terminate a commercial lease for unpaid rent or other moneys with a tenant that has business turnover of less than $50 million where that business is also eligible for the Commonwealth Government’s JobKeeper program.

This applies to any commercial lease that was in place at 1 February 2020 or which commenced prior to 9 April 2020 and will be in place until at least 30 September 2020.

Immediate suspension of rent increases (except for turnover rents) for certain commercial tenants

A landlord cannot increase the rent of a commercial tenant with a business turnover of less than $50 million where that business is also eligible for the Commonwealth Government’s JobKeeper program.

The only exception to this is for leases where rent payable is linked to the turnover of the tenant.

This applies to any commercial lease that was in place at 1 February 2020 or which commenced prior to 9 April 2020 and will be in place until at least 30 September 2020.

Introduction of a Code of Conduct for commercial tenancies

The Tasmanian Government will introduce legislation to give effect to the Code of Conduct for commercial tenancies announced by the Prime Minister on 7 April 2020.

A key principle of the Code of Conduct is that loss associated with the reduction of turnover experienced by tenants should be shared between tenants and landlords.

The Code of Conduct outlines how commercial tenants and landlords will work together during the period it is in effect. This will be until 30 September 2020 and can be extended if necessary.

The Code of Conduct will:

  • prevent termination for unpaid rents and rent increases
  • allow for the waiver or deferral of rent and other charges, and
  • ensures that relief provided by Government and financial institutions is shared by the parties.

The Code of Conduct will be supported by mediation arrangements.

For further information contact the Consumer, Building and Occupational Services on 1300 654 499.

Last update: 16 Jun 2020 1:10pm

The Government has a plan to ‘Rebuild a Stronger Tasmania’. As part of this plan, all workplaces will be required to have a COVID-19 Safety Plan that complies with minimum COVID-19 safety standards. The Direction for COVID-19 Workplace Plans sets the minimum standards for workplaces to be COVID Safe. Your Safety Plan is a great way to show how you are keeping your customers, your workers and your community safe.

Workplaces will need to demonstrate their compliance with the Minimum Standards. Templates are available below to support small and medium-sized businesses to assist in the development of COVID-19 Safety Plans based on sector-specific guidelines. Developing a COVID-19 Safety Plan is the best way to demonstrate compliance with the Minimum Standards.

As workplaces reopen, they will need to demonstrate their compliance with the Minimum Standards. When a WorkSafe Inspector visits, you must be able to demonstrate how you are complying with the minimum standards in your workplace. The Inspector will ask to see your COVID-19 Safety Plan. It shows how you have assessed the risks in your workplace and the control measures you have implemented. It is a simple, concise summary that the Inspector will work through with you while looking at the way your control measures are working in practice.

Business are encouraged to register for COVID Ready window stickers and posters once their COVID-19 Safety Plan is developed and in place. This sticker or poster will provide the Tasmanian community with confidence that your workplace is best prepared to manage and respond to COVID-19.

COVID-19 Safe Workplaces Framework

The COVID-19 Safe Workplaces Framework supports businesses and workplaces in Tasmania to continue to operate, or reopen, while protecting Tasmania's health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Framework is made up of three key parts:

  • Minimum Standards to manage the ongoing risk of COVID-19 in workplaces.
  • COVID-19 Safe Workplace Guidelines to provide more detail on how sectors and workplaces can meet the Minimum Standards.
  • COVID-19 Safety Plans to outline how each workplace complies with the Minimum Standards.

Minimum Standards

Minimum Standards for managing the risks of COVID-19 in all workplaces have been developed in consultation with WorkSafe Tasmania and Public Health and are in place as of Monday 15 June 2020. The Direction remains in force while the Public Health Emergency remains in place, unless revoked earlier. At this time, the Public Health Emergency is in place for 12 weeks, until 30 August 2020.

The Minimum Standards require all workplaces to:

  • manage the risks of a person contracting or spreading COVID-19 in the workplace
  • implement and maintain a cleaning schedule across the workplace
  • have good hygiene procedures and practices (such as washing and/or sanitising of hands)
  • ensure workers who have been instructed to quarantine or self-isolate don’t come to the workplace
  • make sure physical distancing requirements are met by workers, contractors and others entering, leaving or moving around the workplace.
  • provide information, training and supervision on how the risks of COVID-19 are to be managed and ensure all processes and procedures are applied by the workers.
  • provide information and instruction to other people who attend the workplace about how they are to comply with your processes and procedures, and make sure they apply them
  • all information, recommendations, directions and guidance materials relevant to the workplace (obtained from reputable sources) is reviewed regularly to ensure the control measures implemented are appropriate
  • entry into the workplace is managed and controlled in a reasonable manner if someone is suspected of showing symptoms of COVID-19, or of being exposed to COVID-19 within the preceding 14 days, or or being diagnosed with COVID-19
  • any workplace records that would assist with notifying people who enter/leave the workplace of any potential exposure to COVID-19 must be kept for at least 21 days.

Employers must ensure that the above measures remove or reduce the risk posed by COVID-19 as far as is reasonably practicable and those measures are recorded in writing.

See COVID-19 and discrimination law

COVID-19 Safe Workplace Guidelines

We understand that one size doesn’t fit all. Safe Workplace Guidelines are being developed through consultation with industry sectors as a practical guide on how your workplace can meet the Minimum Standards.

WorkSafe Tasmania has a list of completed Sector Guidelines and targeted complete dates for the remaining sectors. Guidelines can also be downloaded from www.worksafe.tas.gov.au once available.

COVID-19 Safety Plans

Your COVID-19 Safety Plan will depend on the size and nature of your workplace. The person controlling the workplace has the duty to manage the risks in the workplace. They should decide how best to developed a COVID-19 Safety Plan. See the Common work health and safety terms.

Workplace toolbox and resources

Checklists and templates are available to help you develop your workplace COVID-19 Safety Plans. These will provide businesses and workplaces already operating, or those preparing to reopen when safe, a chance to review existing practices and prepare themselves for when restrictions are relaxed.

  • Checklist – how to keep your workers safe and limit the spread of COVID-19 and to help you to start thinking about measures to include in your COVID-19 Safety Plan.
  • Safe Workplace Guidelines – practical guides on how your business can meet the Minimum Standards will be available from www.worksafe.tas.gov.au as they are developed.
  • COVID-19 Safety Plan Template for Small Businesses – a practical step-by-step guide to completing a COVID-19 Safety Plan.
  • COVID-19 Safety Plan Template for Medium-Sized Businesses – This template provides a broader framework for developing COVID-19 Safety Plans and can be used by any workplace that wants greater flexibility in the process of drafting the COVID-19 Safety-Plan. Businesses that are already working to an industry standard for managing COVID-19 may find it easier to use the template for Medium-Sized Businesses. Large enterprises may already have well developed COVID-19 Plans in place for a range of workplaces. Existing plans need to be reviewed to ensure that meet the Minimum Standards.
  • How to make a COVID-19 Safety Plan - An online session from Business Tasmania to help you navigate the process of developing your COVID-19 Safety Plan.
  • COVID Ready Stickers and Posters – Stickers and Posters are available to promote the existence in your workplace of a COVID-19 Safety Plan.  This is not a Government endorsement or accreditation of your plan. It does, however, help workplaces to communicate with workers and customers that measures are in place to increase their health and safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. You will need to provide your ABN and declare that you understand your obligations and have a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place in your workplace. Register for COVID Ready Stickers and Posters here.
  • Signage and Posters – instructional posters for the workplace, and signage from Safe Australia.
  • Fact sheet - An overview of COVID-19 Safety Plans.

For any queries

Visit WorkSafe Tasmania
Contact the Business Tasmania Hotline on 1800 440 026

Last update: 07 Aug 2020 12:31pm

My workplace is re-opening. Do I need to be tested for COVID-19 or get medical clearance to return to work?

If you are well and have not had COVID-19

No. If you are well and have not had COVID-19, there is no need to be tested or get medically cleared for COVID-19 before return to work unless this is directed by Public Health Services.

If you are unwell or have symptoms of COVID-19

Yes. If you have a fever (or signs of fever eg night sweats, chills) or cough, sore throat, runny nose or shortness of breath, even if its mild, it is important to get tested.

Stay away from work and other public places and get tested as soon as possible by phoning your GP or the Public Health Hotline (1800 671 738). Other than to get tested or for urgent medical care, stay at home until you get your test results. Even if the test result is negative, stay at home until you are well.

Get tested every time you get sick with any of these symptoms, even if you’ve had a negative test result before.

For staff who have tested positive for COVID-19

You do not need to be tested unless directed to by Public Health Services.

If you have tested positive for COVID-19, you must stay at home (or your place of isolation) until you receive a letter from Public Health Services stating you can leave isolation and return to normal duties, including work. You can only leave home (or your place of isolation) to access urgent, arranged medical care.

Rights at work

Where can I get information about my rights at work, eg being made to use annual/personal leave, being stood down, or being ordered to work from home?

Long service leave

Who can I talk to about accessing my long service leave, or being made to take it?

  • Private sector workers: if you are covered by the Long Service Leave Act 1976 (you can check this with Fair Work; see details above) then the WorkSafe Tasmania Helpline can provide advice. Complete WorkSafe Tasmania’s general enquiry form. Make sure you provide a contact number as the Helpline may need to contact you to discuss. Or call the Helpline on 1300 366 322.
  • Construction Industry workers: contact TasBuild online or call 6294 0807.
  • State Service workers: discuss with your HR team, your union, or the WorkSafe Tasmania Helpline on 1300 366 322.

Superannuation

Who can tell me about accessing my superannuation under 'hardship' circumstances?

Financial assistance

Where can I find the information about financial assistance that is available for workers who have been laid off or stood down?

Workers compensation

Who can help me with my workers compensation claim issues?

Work health and safety

Where can I find information about being COVID-19 safe at work, including information specific to my industry?

Last update: 07 Aug 2020 12:32pm

All employers

What should I tell my staff?

Employers should provide information and brief all employees and contract staff, including domestic and cleaning staff.

Key information to share includes:

My business is re-opening. Should my staff get tested or medically cleared before returning to work?

For staff who are well and have not had COVID-19

No. There is no need for staff who are well and have not had COVID-19 to be tested or medically cleared for COVID-19 before returning to work, unless this is directed by Public Health Services.

Taking steps to slow the spread of illness including through handwashing and physical distancing is important. For more information, see the COVID-19 Safe Workplaces Framework.

For staff who have symptoms of COVID-19

Yes. For staff who have a fever (or signs of fever eg night sweats, chills) or cough, sore throat, runny nose or shortness of breath, even mild, it’s important to get tested.

These staff should stay away from work and other public places and get tested as soon as possible by phoning their GP or the Public Health Hotline (1800 671 738). Other than to get tested or for urgent medical care, they should stay at home until test results are known. Even if test results are negative, encourage staff who are unwell to stay at home until they are well.

For staff who have tested positive for COVID-19

Staff who have tested positive to COVID-19 will receive a letter from Public Health Services telling them when they can leave isolation and return to normal duties, including work.

Can staff who have travelled go to work?

All non-essential travellers arriving in Tasmania will be required to quarantine for 14 days. If they do not get sick in that time, they can then return to work and normal duties. They do not need a clearance certificate.

Employees who are in quarantine should alert their employer. Depending on the type of work, and provided the employee is well, they may want to discuss alternative arrangements such as working from home.

Are my staff Essential Travellers?

See Essential Travellers for more information.

General workplace cleaning

The following information is about general workplace cleaning; not for healthcare settings and confirmed cases.

Cleaning is an important way to slow the spread of viruses like the one that causes COVID-19.

For frequently touched surfaces like door handles, tabletops, desks, light switches, railings, shared keyboards and mice, taps and handles:

  • Clean these surfaces frequently, making sure you remove any visible dirt and organic matter so that the disinfectant can work well.
  • Regularly wipe the surface using your normal household or workplace detergent/disinfectant, following the instructions on the label.
  • It’s okay to use detergent wipes, as long as the cleaning process is thorough and removes visible dirt/organic matter.

Surfaces that are less often touched:

  • Clean these surfaces at least when they start to look dusty or dirty and immediately after any spillage or contamination.
  • Use your normal household or workplace detergent, following the instructions on the label.
  • It’s okay to use detergent wipes, as long as the cleaning process is thorough and removes visible dirt/organic matter.
  • Damp mopping is better than dry.

Tourism operators

Support for cancelled bookings

If your business has been impacted by cancellations both now and in forward bookings due to the coronavirus, you are encouraged to contact Business Tasmania on 1800 440 026 to discuss your situation and register your impact.

Information for Tasmanian tourism operators including business assistance information is also available on the Tourism Tasmania website.

Advice for travel, transport and hotel industries

The Australian Government Department of Health has issued a fact sheet for Hotel Management and Hotel Staff about preventive action staff and guests should take. There are also other resources for people in the travel, transport and hotel industries.

For more resources specific to tourism in Tasmania, see the Tourism Tasmania website.

Hire car businesses

Hire car companies are encouraged to support the implementation of the current quarantine actions to support community safety especially when it is clear the use of their vehicles is contrary to current health directions. The following advice is provided by Department of State Growth to support this decision making by operators:

  • Hire and drive accreditation does not place a positive obligation on an operator to hire a vehicle.
  • Refusal to accept a hirer will only be an offence if the refusal is due to grounds established under anti-discrimination legislation.
  • There are no measures that the Transport Commission would invoke against a hire and drive operator for refusing a hirer who is required to be in quarantine.

State Growth are encouraging industry to work with travellers who may need to get to place of quarantine whilst reinforcing industry standard cleaning procedures.

State Growth will be providing information directly to operators to confirm these details.

Building and construction

Building and construction remains an essential activity under Public Health guidelines. The Government asks that all those involved in the sector - businesses, contractors and employees - have a strong focus on measures to minimise risk of contracting COVID-19.

WorkSafe Tasmania provides links to COVID-19 health and safety resources including industry specific resources for those working on and around building and construction sites.

Primary producers and processors

Ensuring food produced in Tasmania's primary production and processing sectors is safe to eat is an important step in ensuring the wellbeing of consumers. It is also important to the protection of Tasmania's reputation as a producer of safe and clean food.

To help slow the spread of coronavirus, it is important that Tasmania’s primary production and processing sectors comply with their obligations to enforce physical distancing and maintain good hygiene practices.

Biosecurity Tasmania has developed a factsheet to support primary producers and processors that provides advice on ensuring good food safety practices and plans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

To find out more, see the Biosecurity Tasmania section on DPIPWE's COVID-19 Response page.

Last update: 29 Jul 2020 11:57am

Communities Tasmania

Division Service closure

Housing Tasmania Tenancy Services

Annual property inspections, general home visits, office appointments have been suspended.

Telephone contact with tenants is the primary contact method wherever possible.

Tenants are being visited in their homes where there is no other reasonable option.

See the Communities Tasmania website for more information.

Children and Youth Services

Child Safety Service

Anyone with a concern about the safety and wellbeing of a child and their family can call the Strong Families Safe Kids Advice and Referral Line on 1800 000 123 to discuss their concerns. Children and young people can also contact the Advice and Referral Line to ask for help for themselves.

The Child Safety Service has adopted physical distancing measures which means our service has made some changes to the way we work, including replacing all non-essential face-to-face meetings and contact arrangements with phone or video links. This change will be in place until further notice.

All decisions to change the way we work are based on the latest public health advice.

All essential functions of the Child Safety Service will be delivered throughout the pandemic.

Out of Home Care

  • All travel overseas and non-essential interstate travel for children under the custody and guardianship of the Communities Tasmania is suspended.
  • Child Safety Officers are recommencing non-essential face-to-face contact between children and their families.
  • All care households are strongly encouraged to implement specific hygiene and physical distancing measures such as limiting visitors to your household and providing children and young people with information to help them feel more informed.

You can find more information, including how to support children and young people during COVID-19, on the Communities Tasmania website.

Disability and Community Services

Gamblers Help

Elder Abuse Helpline

Silverdome

Silverdome is available for use for bookings of up to 250 people. Conditions apply; please read the Sports Booking and Facility Usage fact sheet.

For more information call (03) 6344 9988 or admin@silverdome.com.au

Health

Division Service closure

Hospital visiting hours

Visiting hours are restricted to 2pm - 6pm daily to patients in public hospitals.

Visitors are limited to a maximum of one per patient at any one time. However exceptions are in place for some hospital wards. See Public hospital patient visitation for more information.

Oral Health Services Tasmania

Emergency and urgent services

Due to the easing of COVID-19 restrictions, Oral Health Services Tasmania (OHST) are expanding the range of services provided but will continue to operate at a reduced capacity.

All emergency and urgent dental services will be available for Tasmanian children under 18 years and adults with a current pensioner concession or health care card.If you think you need urgent care, please phone 1300 011 013.

If you have an appointment and are experiencing cold or flu-like symptoms, such as fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath, or have been told to self-isolate, you should not attend your appointment and call 1300 011 013.

Non-urgent services

While we are operating at a reduced capacity and prioritising cancelled appointments, some less urgent treatment needs will continue to be postponed.

We are keeping a record of everyone who has called and who has had their appointment postponed and will endeavour to contact you when we have the capacity to see more patients.

If your dental condition changes, please call us on 1300 011 013.

School dental programs

School dental programs, including the Fissure Sealant and Fluoride Varnish Program have been cancelled until further notice.

Further information

Phone: 1300 011 013
Email: OHST.Feedback@ths.tas.gov.au
Web: Oral Health Services Tasmania

Justice

Division Service closure

Supreme Court

Jury trials have resumed in the Hobart Supreme Court and the Launceston Supreme Court from 21 July 2020.

There will be no jury trials in the Burnie Supreme Court until further notice. Some Burnie cases may be transferred to Launceston for jury trial.

The Registry Offices of the Supreme Court are open in Hobart, Launceston and Burnie.

Some court business may be conducted by audio/videolink proceedings at the discretion of the relevant Judge.

Details are available on the Supreme Court of Tasmania website.

Phone enquiries: 1300 664 608

Magistrates Court

Measures will continue to minimise the number of people attending court buildings.

From 29 June 2020, criminal and general matters may be dealt with in person or by audio or audio visual link, as the magistrate directs.

Civil matters will resume from 1 July 2020. Wherever possible matters will be dealt with by audio or audio visual link, unless a magistrate directs otherwise.

Applications and documents are to be lodged via email wherever possible.

Details are available on the Magistrates Court of Tasmania website.

Tasmania Prison Service

Following a temporary suspension, personal contact visits will recommence again from Monday 27 July 2020. To ensure public health guidelines are followed, there have been a number of changes made to the way that visits are held. These changes are outlined on the Department of Justice website.

All persons intending to enter a Tasmania Prison Service facility will be required to participate in an automatic non-contact temperature scan. Any person with a high temperature will not be permitted to enter without a certificate of health from a medical practitioner.

Births, Deaths and Marriages

Certificate applications can be lodged online.

The following applications should be lodged by mail:

  • Change of name registrations
  • Gender registrations
  • Relationship registrations

For more details visit the Department of Justice website.

Justices of the Peace (JPs)

Many Justices of the Peace have now resumed their normal services.

Details on the services offered by Justices of the Peace, and how to find one in your area, are available on the Department of Justice website.

Primary Industries, Parks, Water and Environment

Division Service closure

Parks and Wildlife Service (PWS)

National parks and reserves

Most parks and reserves (including visitor centres and campgrounds) have reopened.

A temporary registration system for popular day and overnight walks and camping is in place, with numbers capped to allow physical distancing to occur and ensure adherence to COVID-19 guidelines.

For information about current changes or to register for camping, day or overnight walks visit the PWS website.

Land Titles Office

To reduce the number of people visiting the Land Titles Office, solicitors and surveyors are requested to direct enquiries via phone or email. Documents should be lodged online, submitted via post, or to a secure drop-box in the foyer.

AgriGrowth

Muttonbird harvesting

The Tasmanian recreational muttonbird season has closed. Information on licence refunds is on the DPIPWE website.

State Growth

Division Service closure

Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery

Opening hours are Tuesday to Sunday, 10:00 am to 4:00 pm.

Bookings are required to help manage the flow of people. Visit the TMAG website or call (03) 6165 7000 to book.

Treasury and Finance

Division Service closure

State Revenue Office

Physical offices closed; please email taxhelp@treasury.tas.gov.au

Liquor and Gaming

Physical offices closed; please email:

Superannuation Commission (RBF)

Physical offices closed; please call the RBF enquiry line on 1800 622 631.

Government House

Service closure

All non-essential events cancelled or postponed for the time being.

Last update: 11 Aug 2020 11:03am

Information for health and aged care workers and organisations

This information should be read alongside COVID-19 information developed by the Australian Government Department of Health for healthcare workers, and additional information on this website and the Australian Government Department of Health website about home quarantine, physical distancing and border control measures. This information is not intended as clinical guidance for health or aged care workers directly caring for confirmed, probable or suspect cases of COVID-19. Information is also applicable for health and aged care organisations.

Who is a health or aged care worker?

Health or aged care workers are staff providing direct care to patients in health and aged care facilities and in residential and community settings. This includes staff registered through the Australian Health Practitioners Regulation Agency, students within those professions and medical attendants.

You cannot go to work as a healthcare worker if:

  • you have direct patient contact AND you develop a fever (≥37.5°C) or history of fever (eg night sweats, chills) OR an acute respiratory infection (eg shortness of breath, cough, sore throat); you fit the definition of a suspect case of COVID-19 and need to be tested*
  • you meet any criteria for quarantine and have not been given exemption from quarantine to attend work; you need to stay where you have been directed to stay
  • you had unprotected close contact with a confirmed case in the last 14 days^; you need to quarantine for 14 days from your last contact with the confirmed case

*This does not include contact you may have with confirmed cases while using recommended personal protective equipment and infection control measures as part of your work.

^Early detection of COVID-19 in healthcare workers is an important protective mechanism for the higher risk population that we care for. For this reason, healthcare workers that provide direct care have a lower threshold for being a suspect case.

If you need to stay away from work but cannot do this in your own home, you may be eligible for emergency accommodation. However, you will need support from your management to be eligible.

COVID-19 is highly transmissible and can be easily spread via sneezing and coughing or touching contaminated environmental surfaces.

Health workers should be mindful of the following principles to reduce transmission risk:

  • reduce physical contact (eg avoid shaking hands)
  • use good hand and respiratory hygiene
  • keep 1.5 metres away from others
  • ensure each person has 2m2 space around them where possible (eg increase distance between chairs for patients and staff)
  • reduce face-to-face gatherings by using alternative methods where possible (ie teleconference or providing health care remotely eg through Telehealth)
  • minimise staffing changes for patients who are vulnerable to severe illness from COVID-19
  • enforce visitor restrictions
  • read the advice from Worksafe Tasmania on How to keep your workers safe and limit the spread of COVID-19.

In order to provide further support to all workers during this time, workplaces were required to develop ‘COVID-19 Safety Plans’ to meet requirements of the Public Health Direction under Section 16 (Workplace COVID Plan – No. 1). Employees should contact their employer directly about their workplace requirements. Refer to the Worksafe Tasmania website for a range of other resources.

Infection control precautions

Your organisation will have implemented clear infection prevention and control protocols as part of its COVID Safety Plan.

You may find the following resources useful:

Organisations may also consider:

  • providing patients with a surgical mask to wear while in the healthcare setting;
  • providing alcohol-based hand rub for use by all staff, patients and visitors within your facility;
  • providing tissues and no-touch rubbish bins;
  • providing soap and paper towels at all hand basins; and
  • displaying posters about hand hygiene and cough etiquette.

Cleaning staff should wear disposable gloves, wash hands regularly and if cleaning areas that have been used by people in quarantine or isolation, wear PPE in accordance with their organisation’s infection prevention and control protocols.

If a patient has severe symptoms suggestive of pneumonia, move them to a negative pressure room, if available, or a room where the air does not circulate to other areas.

Patients with COVID-19 should wear a surgical facemask and follow respiratory hygiene and cough etiquette.

Further resources:

What does physical distancing mean for health and aged care workers?

Physical distancing means increasing the physical space between yourself and others as much as possible. Clearly this is not always possible when providing direct care. When it is safe and practicable to increase distance, you must do so.

For example:

  • when conducting clinic appointments, place patients’ chairs at least 1.5 metres from your own and keep your distance when not doing physical examinations;
  • avoid handshakes, hugging and kissing people as greetings;
  • increase distances between chairs in waiting rooms, especially for people who are vulnerable to severe illness;
  • minimise staffing changes for those receiving care who are vulnerable to severe illness from COVID-19;
  • minimise unnecessary visits to those who are vulnerable to severe illness from COVID-19;
  • avoid crowding in lunchrooms and offices, including during shift handovers;
  • maintain distance from colleagues where possible;
  • minimise face-to-face meetings; use teleconference and videoconference for meetings where possible and limit the size and duration of meetings;
  • minimise patient visitors and the number of people accompanying patients.

Healthcare workers at higher risk

There are healthcare workers providing direct patient care who are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19.

What should healthcare workers at higher risk of severe illness do?

Having a safe working environment is essential.

There are many roles throughout the health system that may be available for staff at higher risk of severe illness, to reduce their risk of exposure to COVID-19.

If you are a healthcare worker at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19, talk with your manager about your level of risk and ways to lower the risk. You may be asked to seek advice from your GP or relevant specialist.

What should healthcare workers who are caring for or living with a person who is at higher risk of severe illness do?

If you are worried because you live with or care for someone at increased risk of severe COVID-19 illness, discuss options with your manager.

What should managers do?

Managers have a duty of care to work with healthcare workers identified as being at higher risk of severe COVID-19 illness, to provide safe working environments.

Consider:

  • areas of the health service where there is low risk of exposure to COVID-19
  • roles within the health service that have low risk of exposure to COVID-19, eg staff education
  • other health services where there is low risk of exposure to COVID-19
  • the option of providing health services remotely, for example through telehealth or telephone services, or assisting with calls to the Public Health Hotline.

If necessary, request information from the staff member’s GP or relevant specialist.

If I'm looking after someone who is in quarantine, what precautions do I need to take

Contact and droplet precautions are recommended for routine care of patients in quarantine or with suspected or confirmed COVID-19.

Contact and airborne precautions are recommended when performing aerosol-generating procedures, including intubation and bronchoscopy, and for care of critically ill patients.

Remember to change your facemask if/when it becomes damp.

The Tasmanian Infection Prevention and Control Unit has published instructional videos on the use of personal protective equipment.

For more information about infection control precautions, see your service’s infection prevention and control guidelines or contact your infection prevention and control staff.

Can patients in quarantine still attend appointments?

Patients can leave quarantine to access arranged medical care when this is supported by their healthcare provider and the care cannot safely or feasibly be postponed. Patients should contact their healthcare provider before the appointment and let you know they are in quarantine for COVID-19. You should determine if the appointment can be safely or feasibly deferred and provide advice on safe travel (which should be direct to/from the medical premises, to minimise potential spread of illness and protect others) if the appointment proceeds.

For these purposes, medical care includes:

  • antenatal appointments
  • specialist appointments
  • outpatient clinic appointments
  • urgent primary care appointments that cannot be safely postponed
  • urgent and emergency transport to hospital.

All travellers arriving in Tasmania are required to quarantine for 14 days unless they meet Essential Traveller status or exemption criteria and have received official communication stating that they are exempt.

Healthcare workers (including medical, nursing, midwifery and allied health professionals, paramedics and ambulance officers) may apply for exemption from having to complete 14 days quarantine after arriving in Tasmania. Decisions relating to quarantine exemption will be based on the essential (and time-critical) nature of the work to be provided, and the risk profile of the arriving traveller.

Every health care worker seeking an exemption from quarantine must complete an online application as part of registering to travel to Tasmania using the G2G PASS system.

Further guidance on Tasmanian border restrictions for public and private health workers on the existing exemption categories and the process for seeking exemption from quarantine requirements is available at Border control information for health workers.

Influenza vaccine requirements for aged care workers

Since 1 May 2020, you must have had the 2020 influenza vaccine to work in or visit a residential aged care facility unless your presence is required for the purposes of emergency management or law enforcement. Find out more about this requirement.

Advice for immunisation providers, including councils and General Practice

The Department of Health has produced these recommendations to help councils, General Practice and other immunisation providers provide immunisation services to their community.

The threat of coronavirus (COVID-19) to public health is unprecedented. We must all take steps to minimise the risk of transmission to staff and clients attending community immunisation services.

Immunisation providers will have to consider these recommended procedures, based on current advice, when developing their operational processes based on staffing levels, venues and client numbers.

Recommendations for venues

Signage

It is recommended signage be displayed at the entrances of all sessions. Such signage should include the following information:

  • Due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, <Immunisation provider> is taking measures to protect the community. It is vital their instructions are followed.
  • Only one parent/guardian should accompany a child into the session.
  • People should not attend the session if they or their child have symptoms of a respiratory infection (such as fever, or a sore throat, or a runny nose, or shortness of breath or a cough) or have returned from overseas or interstate in the past 14 days.
  • Wash hands or use hand sanitiser provided at the entrance to the reception or waiting area.

Consideration should be given to the translation of all signage and messaging into other key community languages.

Physical distancing

  • Immunisation providers may need to consider moving immunisation services to larger spaced community venues.
  • Immunisation providers may need to consider implementing a booking system to manage client flow and to avoid gathering people together at the same time.
  • Arrange client seating and queueing for administration so there is 1.5 metres between clients.
  • If there is a child, limit the vaccine process to one adult with the child being vaccinated (unless there are extenuating circumstances).
  • Consider a separate room for clients to wait after vaccination depending on numbers at each session.
  • If many clients arrive and there is not enough seating, a staff member should be available to monitor queueing and maintain the order and flow of clients into the administration area.
  • Sit clients 1.5 metres from administration staff desk on check in and 1.5 metres from other clients at the nurse’s table.
  • Minimise physical contact with clients and client record documents.
  • Individual providers can consider models that work best for their space and circumstances, but may include:
    • using additional waiting areas, eg in car or an outside space before vaccination, or additional waiting rooms if available;
    • using SMS to inform clients when immunisers are ready for them; and
    • using a staggered immunisation approach across three to four clinic rooms/spaces. Clients are placed in separate rooms for immunisation and observation periods and the immuniser moves from room to room.

Vaccine preparation

Do not needle or prepare large quantities of vaccine in case of low attendance.

Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

  • PPE additional to that normally used as part of your routine immunisation service is not recommended. PPE is only necessary for healthcare workers seeing patients with symptoms consistent with coronavirus (COVID-19), where there is a much higher risk of transmission.
  • Ensure hand hygiene between each vaccination. Wash hands thoroughly at regular intervals or if visibly soiled and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser in between each client.
  • Encourage cough etiquette and respiratory hygiene at the sessions, eg use signage and if children are coughing or sneezing, ensure this is into their elbow and they wash their hands afterwards.

Environmental cleaning

  • Avoid providing toys children will share.
  • Wipe down surfaces that have come into close contact with the client between each vaccination using alcohol-based disinfectant.
  • Disinfectant product must be available at the administration and clinical area.

Immunisation checklists

Use a single page pre-immunisation checklist for each client rather than a laminated version.

Longer immunisation sessions

Consider longer immunisation sessions to implement procedures to protect staff and the community against the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).

Communication

Immunisation providers should ensure immunisation webpages, phone messages and venue signage is update regularly with coronavirus (COVID-19) information to ensure clients are aware of the expectations and changes that providers have made to the service.

Staff absenteeism

  • Staff must not attend an immunisation service if unwell.
  • Staff with risk factors for coronavirus (COVID-19) and/or are unwell must not be come to work until they have been assessed by a medical practitioner as being clear. This will involve having a medical assessment and a swab test for coronavirus (COVID-19), which must be negative.
  • If a member of staff is a healthcare worker and is a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19), they must not return to work until they have been assessed by a medical practitioner as fully recovered and have returned a negative coronavirus (COVID-19) virus test.
  • If there are staff shortages, immunisation providers will need to determine if an immunisation session can be undertaken safely.

Safety

Maintain patient safety as a priority, including observation during the 15-minute waiting time following immunisation.

Cancellation of community immunisation

  • Ensure signage is displayed prominently at the venue if services are cancelled.
  • Provide a website or phone contact for the next available immunisation session.
  • Providers using an appointment-based service may consider using SMS and social media to notify clients of any changes to service provision.

There are a range of useful resources for health and aged care workers.

General information about COVID-19

General resources for health and aged care

Prevention and control of infection

Screening and risk assessment

Outbreak management

Last update: 07 Aug 2020 12:30pm

Employers must ensure, so far as is reasonably practicable, the health and safety of workers and other people. This includes having measures in place to eliminate or manage the risks arising from COVID-19.

To do this WorkSafe Tasmania advises:

  • to keep up to date with Tasmanian Government advice on controls to prevent the spread of COVID-19, including any restrictions on normal business activities, and respond accordingly
  • if there has been a confirmed case of COVID-19 in your place of business, you should seek advice from Public Health Services by calling the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738
  • if Public Health Services becomes aware of a positive diagnosis, it has procedures in place to track the movements of the person and will provide advice on what action should be taken
  • current legislative requirements remain in force; however, if you are unable to meet your regulatory obligations because of COVID-19 then WorkSafe Tasmania will take a reasonable and proportionate response.

If employers need to make changes to usual working hours/days or systems of work, they must do a risk assessment and control any risks found. Issues that could arise include fatigue, work breaks, workers' training/skill levels, and providing information, training and supervision to insure workers' safety. WorkSafe Tasmania’s website has guidance on how to manage these issues.

The Tasmanian Government’s COVID-19 Safe Workplaces Framework supports workplaces as they re-open or expand their business activities during the pandemic, while ensuring the health and safety of all Tasmanians. WorkSafe Tasmania have published a series of COVID-19 Safe Workplace Guidelines. These will help you complete your COVID-19 Safety Plan.

For more COVID-19 specific guidance and resources — including workplace safety, pandemic planning, industry-specific guidance (including construction, retail, transport and more), working safely from home, and COVID-19 incident notification requirements — see WorkSafe Tasmania’s COVID-19 advice. Please check this website regularly for updates.

Workers compensation

Under the Workers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act, employers are required to pay compensation to a worker who has contracted COVID-19 and their employment contributed to this to a substantial degree. The issue is one of determining that the worker’s employment is the major or most significant factor in them contracting COVID-19.

For more COVID-19 specific guidance on workers compensation, for employers and workers, see WorkSafe Tasmania's website. Please check this website regularly for any updates.