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Posted on: 17 March, 2020

Council’s Covid-19 Considerations

Snowy Monaro Regional Council is putting plans in place to manage the potential impacts of Covid-19 on its operations.

The Covid-19 is already causing unexpected issues to Council. A toilet paper dispenser was broken and toilet paper rolls stolen at one of our public toilet blocks in Jindabyne. “This is not something we expected and with the current shortage of supplies, it can be a simple thing as having no toilet paper that can force us to change or reduce the service we provide to both residents and visitors.” Council’s Chief Executive Officer, Mr Bascomb, stated.

Using its Business Continuity Plans the Council is trying to anticipate the impacts that the virus may have and what response the Council can put in place. “We have to try and plan for the worst case, then hope that this does not happen,” said Mr Bascomb. “There are two main issues we will face. The first is that we provide services to a range of older people, such as through the nursing homes, home support and community transport. These people are a vulnerable group, so it is important we have processes in place to minimise any spread of the virus. The second is that the virus may reduce our workforce significantly, which could impact on our ability to provide services.”

As nursing homes have a lot of people who can be vulnerable to viruses, this will be a key area to focus on. “We have already had discussions with residents and their families about reducing the outings to limit exposure to the virus.” Mr Bascomb advised. “We are now focused on reviewing our hygiene practices and protocols and setting up plans for how we cope with the virus as it comes into this area.” In addition a number of outings outside our region have needed to be rescheduled.

“It is also critical that we can still provide water and treat sewer,” said Mr Bascomb. “We provide a lot of critical services, such as removal of rubbish, that our community depend on. So our top priority is ensuring that those services continue.” Key staff have been identified and plans put into place for how to try and ensure someone is available at all times. “It is hard as there often is only one or two people who undertake a particular function.” Said Mr Bascomb “As they often can work together the chances of everyone getting the virus at the same time is high.”

All nonessential Council hosted community consultation sessions and events will be cancelled or postponed until further notice to reduce the spread of the virus in our region. Council will be implementing online methods to engage with our community on a number of consultation projects currently underway. Details for each of these projects will be promoted in the coming days. If a consultation is identified as essential, Council will implement our hygiene practices and protocols at the event, encouraging only those who are not presenting with flu-like symptoms to attend.

The impact of hoarding has impacted Council, with essential suppliers being engaged to help source limited products to allow Council to continue to provide services to our community. Mr Bascomb pointed out that “things like hand sanitiser are in short supply, so ensuring aged care facilities get top priority for what we have is important.”

For now, it is business as usual where possible, apart from the need to get more toilet paper into the Jindabyne toilets.

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