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Council Connections 25 March 2020

25th March 2020

Council and staff have been reviewing and implementing Council’s Business Continuity Plan in preparation and response to the pending effects of the Coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19). Strategies are being implemented to ensure continuation of our services, particularly the essential services to our community.

Whilst it is business as usual for the time being, it is expected that at some stage, a number of staff may be off work at the same time, either due to self-illness or the need to look after children and other family members, or in self isolation due to exposure to an infected person.

Dependent on the number of staff off work and the need to deploy staff to critical and essential areas, a number of non-essential services may need to be either stopped or the present levels of service reduced. Priority of staffing will always be afforded to water, sewerage, waste disposal and general community hygiene activities.

Some actions being taken at present include:

Determining telecommunication and logistical issues for work from home arrangements;

Increased community area cleaning regimes;

Ensuring adequate supplies for cleaning disinfectant and other essential supplies;

Consideration of separate work groups and reducing social contact;

Education on prevention and mitigation techniques; and

Consideration and compliance with changes being implemented by State and Federal Agencies.

The Federal Government has established clear delegations to all levels of Government in managing the pandemic, and Council is implementing specific measures to minimise disruption of its workforce in order to maintain essential services, while protecting the community and staff.

With a view to protecting our staff, we are looking at ways of either limiting public contact, or ensuring appropriate social distancing is in place. We are asking the public to avoid or limit visiting the Council offices or workspaces where at all possible, particularly if feeling unwell or symptomatic.

‘Social distancing’ offers practical ways to increase physical space between others to mitigate the spread of Coronavirus at home, in the workplace, in public and schools.

In support of this advice from authorities Council requests all customers to consider and start practicing ways to submit enquiries via website, email, or phone 4776 4600 rather than attending Council in person.

Alternative forms of contact will make it easier to continue doing business without compromise to its level of service.

There are plans in place should the need arise to scale back services or close additional Council facilities. Council’s staff at present believe that good and proper systems are in place for protection of the community and that situation will continue to be monitored closely. Should community members ignore these practical measures, Council will have no alternative but to consider possible closure of public facilities.

We also ask that you follow any instructions provided by Council, or staff as required. You will see signs around the community to practice proper hygiene and cough etiquette etc. These directions are to help protect and should not be ignored.

This is not a “someone should” scenario. This is a “we must all do” situation and if we all work together in observing the proper protocols, we have a better chance of assisting our health systems cope with those most in need.

As a community we will need to remain vigilant following information from authorities and be ready to modify our priorities as the situation changes.

The Hinchinbrook Local Disaster Management Group (HLDMG) remains in close contact with Queensland Health and the LDMG is ready to activate and assist Queensland Health if required.

For further information, visit Council’s website Coronavirus (COVID-19) page.

Support for Businesses

As small businesses begin to be impacted by the effects of COVID-19 it is important that we support each other and our local businesses to prevent loss of staff or permanent closures.

We are extremely upset for the business owners who will also suffer from the stringent lockdown laws introduced this week and our thoughts and prayers go to the businesses concerned.

Given the non-essential business closure direction – it is now important, more than ever, to support our local businesses.

Non-essential businesses include hotels (excluding bottle shops), restaurants and fast food outlets (except for take away services).

You can support local business by buying food from businesses offering take away options.

You can still go about your business as long as you observe good hygiene and distancing protocols. Most all local businesses have safety arrangements in place.

Council has existing policies to assist with relief arrangements to support the community upon application, such as rate relief and repayment options.

We are a few days out from an election and inside a caretaker period so Council is not in a position to make major policy decisions for business support for the current situation. That will be a priority task for the new Council.

Businesses requiring assistance are urged to contact Council on 4776 4600 to discuss options.

Council is not capable of offering ongoing financial support. That type of financial support is being organised by the Federal Government through the new stimulus packages announced recently.

Business owners are urged to regularly check what support is available from the Federal Government by visiting www.treasury.gov.au/coronavirus.

Council Events on Hold

All Council events have been cancelled or placed on hold until further notice. The Hinchinbrook Shire Library and Halifax Sub Branch will continue to remain open at this stage, with increased cleaning of the public areas being undertaken to minimise the public health risk.

Closure of the Hinchinbrook Visitor Information Centre

Please be advised that in line with the State Governments decision to close the Queensland Border, the Hinchinbrook Visitor Information Centre is closed until further notice. Staff will continue to support visitors over the phone and brochures will be available at the entrance to the facility.

ANZAC Day

As Chair of the Hinchinbrook ANZAC Day Committee, I must regrettably inform the community that ANZAC Day commemorations for 2020 were cancelled last week.

Based on advice received from health authorities and following discussions with the RSL Sub-branch President, it is quite evident that the risks posed to the community, especially our elderly diggers from the Coronavirus, is extreme and unacceptable.

I am sure that each and every one of you, the members of our community, will “remember them” individually in your own way.

Need to print the Council Connections page? Click on the link below for the printable version. 

COUNCIL CONNECTIONS -  25 MARCH 2020

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