As you would be aware, the NSW government announced on December 2nd, significant changes to density rules. These changes came into effect on December 7th.
The delay in releasing this update was due to the slow publication of the updated Public Health Order that reflects these new rules.
The purpose of today's communication is to summarise these new rules and to (hopefully) provide a level of clarity around the areas that are ambiguous.
The key details are -
- There are no longer any maximum numbers at venues, with 2sqm space per person the only limiting factor.
- This 2sqm rule for all spaces. However, the rule does not need to be applied for less than 25 people.
- Singing is allowed with 50 performers indoors, no limit outdoors (more on this below).
The relevant NSW Covid Plans have been updated with an effective date of December 7th.
- Electronic recording of guests is required in many circumstances, where internet is readily available. For certain industries, QR codes are mandatory. There are 22 different industry sectors for which QR codes are mandatory (see the link to the Public Health Order at end of this update). Caravan Parks and Camp Grounds are NOT one of the nominated sectors (more on this below).
- Outdoor gatherings in public places are limited to 100 persons (more of this below).
Commentary on these changes -
These changes are exceptionally good news for our sector, but there still remains some uncertainty as different COVID Plans have different rules, with certain plans making reference to bunk bed spacing and other plans having no reference to this.
1. Bunk Beds Spacing:
On several occasions, the NSW Department of Health have, in response to my enquiries, referred our sector to the Caravan Parks and Camping Grounds COVID Plan. This includes the most recent communication to me, dated October 6th, from the NSW Department of Health’s COVID-19 Ministerial Services, as a response to a letter I wrote to NSW Health’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant.
To quote from this letter:
It would therefore be our recommendation to use this COVID plan as the basis of all decisions regarding site usage.
The legislation refers to 50 performers allowed to sing indoors, with congregations, etc encouraged to wear face masks if singing. A commentary piece from Associate Professor Neil Foster, suggests that any number of persons can sing indoors as long as they wear face masks (see https://bit.ly/3oCMv99) . This is excellent news for our ministry camps that are commencing soon.
3. Record Keeping:
The Caravan Parks and Camp Grounds COVID Plan stated that “any paper records should be entered into a electronic format such as spreadsheet” within 12 hours…”
I also make note that it is suggested in other NSW COVID plans, that we have records of what rooms each guest slept in during their stay, which should be kept for 28 days.
These records must be kept securely and used only for the purpose for which they were intended (i.e. COVID-19 tracing). Therefore, a QR code only, may not be the most effective method of signing in contractors, where it may be policy to keep such records for longer than 28 days, to ensure a continuous record of who was on site is needed. Thus, for contractors, it may be necessary for two parallel systems to be operating.
4. 100 persons maximum in an Outdoor Public Gathering:
It is possible that this limitation does not apply to our venues, as they may not fall within the definition of a public place.
The legislation states that an Outdoor Public Gathering should not exceed 100 persons. The key to this is what defines a “public gathering” and a “public place”. Fortunately, this is defined within this legislation as follows -
public gathering means a meeting or assembly of persons for a common purpose, including an organised or planned event, in a public place, whether ticketed or not.
public place has the same meaning as in the Summary Offences Act 1988.
This act defines a public place, in part, to be a place that is open to the public, or is used by the public, whether or not on payment of money or other consideration, whether or not the place or part is ordinarily so open or used and whether or not the public to whom it is open consists only of a limited class of persons, but does not include a school.
I would recommend that, where possible, each site seeks their Board’s agreement that its programs are not held in a “public place”.
As always, your Association is available to provide guidance as we work to bring our ministries back.