Strata Living with the Pandemic

SCA (Vic)’s New COVID-19 Best Practice Guidelines for a Post-90% Vaccinated and Boosted World

Two versions of a new Strata Community Association (Vic) COVID-19 Best Practice Guideline have been published, one for residents and one for owners corporation committees, managers and suppliers, providing much-needed, and long-sought-after clarity in response to the many issues and complexities faced throughout the pandemic in 2021.

As Australian society has begun to reopen and as 2022 has arrived, a less lethal, but highly transmissible variant of COVID-19 proliferating beyond peak infection figures observed throughout the pandemic thus far has meant that the scope and purpose of the SCA (Vic) COVID-19 Best Practice Guidelines to provide guidance in a post-90 percent fully vaccinated environment has subsequently changed.

The presence of the Omicron variant (and other subsequently discovered variants) of COVID-19, while ultimately proving less of an immediate threat to the health and lives of most Australians, has nevertheless caused considerable disruption to economic and social structures at the time of writing.

Incremental adjustments to official terminology, definitions and public health restrictions have either been considered or enacted by the Commonwealth and state governments in response to these developments.

Accordingly, SCA (Vic) has continued to engage effectively with a network of reliable contacts within the Victorian

Department of Health and other government agencies, to forge a path ahead that is proportional, and based on evidence, as well as the expertise of industry.

The SCA (Vic) guidelines will be updated according to changes with the situation applicable in Victoria, which remains fluid at this time.

2021 saw Victorian owners corporations face regular challenges to their day-to-day business and the scope of their governance of common and shared property called into question, as public health restrictions have continued to proliferate.

Having lived through a record six lockdowns throughout 2020-21, Victorians know all too well what to do to respond to the changing threat environment posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The experience of SCA (Vic) in attempting to coordinate the response of industry to ever-changing public health restrictions in 2021 has been a continual, and at times, difficult one.

Key to the success of our advocacy efforts in securing the correct information, guidance and regulatory parameters for owners, residents, owners corporation committees, managers and suppliers has been establishing the concerns and experience of these stakeholders in the consciousness of government, while proposing and suggesting realistic means of addressing each issue associated with COVID-19 as it has presented itself in the strata context.

Following a continuation of lockdowns and associated public health restrictions in Victoria throughout 2021, owners corporations, strata managers and residents in apartment buildings and other multi-unit dwellings faced many challenges pertaining to managing the spread of COVID-19, adhering to ever-changing conditions, and risk management.

Among the most common questions facing consumers in strata, SCA (Vic) has observed that these commonly relate to vaccination rules, QR code check-ins, COVID Marshals and isolating residents.

Indeed, the paradigm has shifted away from ‘elimination’ or ‘suppression’ to instead managing the coordination of resources to meet public health challenges into 2022 and beyond as it relates to COVID-19.

For residents, information in the Best Practice Guideline includes the safe use and enjoyment of common property and facilities, what to do in the event of testing positive to COVID-19 and/or having to quarantine, as well as where to turn to for further guidance and support from official government resources.

For owners corporations, committees, managers and suppliers, the Best Practice Guideline outlines what steps need to be taken to meet current Victorian Government public health protocols and COVIDSafe settings, how to facilitate digital and in-person meetings and voting procedures, and what owners corporations can do to prevent and respond to the spread of COVID-19 in highdensity living settings.

If you live in an apartment anywhere in Victoria, are a member of an owners corporation committee or work in the strata sector, picking up and reading these Best Practice Guidelines will mean that you too, can play your part in continuing to keep the community safe, as we learn to live with COVID-19 in 2022 and beyond.

Information compiled within the Best Practice Guidelines has arisen from tireless advocacy efforts by SCA (Vic) to secure correct and appropriate public health advice and guidance from the Victorian Government, so that owners corporations and the strata sector more broadly, can operate according to COVIDSafe settings.

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