COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

The health and safety of our staff and community is Huon Valley Council’s number one priority and we are actively taking measures respond to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic. We are also supporting wellbeing and resilience in our communities through the Stronger Together recovery program.   

In the interest of public safety, we have made changes to the way we deliver services in accordance with advice from the Department of Health. Council has enacted its Business Continuity Plan to ensure we maintain an appropriate level of service to the community.

To reduce the number of face-to-face interactions, we encourage you to interact with Council the following ways:

Useful resources:

Printable resources:

For a range of print-friendly posters, flyers and fact sheets please go to coronavirus.tas.gov.au/resources.

Mental health support:

If you are feeling distressed, seek support:

More mental health resources are available on coronavirus.tas.gov.au.

Updates from Council

For individuals, families and community

Protect yourself, protect others

Protect yourself and others by washing your hands regularly, maintaining physical distancing when you go out, and downloading the COVIDSafe app.

Restrictions on gatherings remain in place in Tasmania to guide Tasmanians through a staged process on the road to recovery. A Frequently Asked Questions fact sheet about restrictions on gatherings is now available.

Call your GP or the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 to be tested for COVID-19 if you have any cold or flu-like symptoms.

It is recommended that Indigenous people over the age of 50; people over the age of 65 with existing health conditions; and anyone over the age of 70 should continue to stay at home as much as possible to protect their health.

Community members are encouraged to check in on vulnerable residents by phone or online to provide social connection and see if they need assistance.

Restrictions

The Tasmanian Government has a staged plan for lifting restrictions, with a list of Current Restrictions available on the Coronavirus Tasmania website. The Huon Valley Council Roadmap to Reopening gives a timeline for the reopening of our recreation areas and Recreation Centres, community halls, Re-Use Shop, and Customer Services Centre, over the coming weeks.

Following the announcement by the Premier that National Parks and reserves are now able to re-open, Council has also opened access to our local parks, reserves and open spaces from Monday, 11 May for the purpose of exercising only.

Physical distancing must be strictly observed at all times, and people are asked to move on once they have completed their exercise. If a park or walkway is busy, please come back another time or try another area.

Support for individuals and the community

The Tasmanian Government’s social and economic support package will help vulnerable Tasmanians and our community as we deal with the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Information about support for households and the community is available at coronavirus.tas.gov.au/stimulus-and-support.

The Tasmanian Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 671 738 is the main point of contact for the Tasmanian community on the coronavirus pandemic.

Older Australians can call the National COVID Older Persons Information Line on 1800 171 866 to speak to friendly, specially trained staff from a senior’s advocacy organisation.

Emergency support is available for vulnerable and low-income Tasmanians, including those who need to self-isolate but are unable to stay at their normal place of residence or are homeless.

A number of Huon Valley food relief services, social workers and community groups are available by phone to provide support to those who need it while limiting physical contact.

Community Transport Services Tasmania can help vulnerable Tasmanians with grocery and pharmacy delivery at no cost, and extended its service to include transport to medical appointments. More info: met@ctst.org.au or call 1800 781 033

Financial support

Please go to the Australian Government Treasury website for details about financial assistance for individuals and households.

Under the new JobKeeper Payment, businesses impacted by the coronavirus will be able to access a wage subsidy from the Government to continue paying their employees.

Income support will be provided through a temporary Coronavirus Supplement of $550 a fortnight for new and existing income support recipients from 27 April 2020 for six months.

Please go to the Services Australia website if you are affected by COVID-19 and want to find out more about financial assistance that may be available to you.

Many telcos like Telstra and Optus are offering assistance packages to customers with inclusions like bonus data and upgrades. A list of these offers has been compiled in this WhistleOut article and you will be able to find out about assistance available to you by visiting your telco’s website.

NBN Australia’s new $150 million COVID-19 relief and assistance package will help internet providers to support their residential and small and medium business customers affected by the pandemic.

Schools

In Term 2, all schools will transition back to school-based learning through a phased approach.

Useful links:

For further information please contact the Department of Education on 1800 816 057 (9am to 5pm weekdays).

Children should not attend school or childcare if they feel unwell.

Parents who choose to keep your child at home to learn will be responsible for supporting their child’s learning through their own resources. The the Department of Education Learning at Home page provides some ideas and activities which may assist.

The new School Recommendation Program will enable year 12 students to apply for most undergraduate courses at UTAS, and be made an offer much earlier in the year based on the recommendation of their school.

Early childhood education and care 

Children can still attend childcare, unless they are unwell or meet the criteria for self-isolation.

Huon Valley Children’s Services’ Child Care Centres in Huonville, Geeveston and Dover continue to run and are following hygiene and social distancing advice from the Department of Health.

After School Care at our centres is available 3pm to 6pm weekdays. Please call the office on (03) 6264 0333 to book.

Disability support

Information and assistance specific to the disability sector is now available on coronavirus.tas.gov.au.

The Australian Government’s Management and Operational Plan for People with Disability has been launched.

Disability Information Helpline: 1800 643 787 weekdays 8am to 8pm and 9am to 7pm on the weekend (free call)

Family violence

The Tasmanian Government has signed a new partnership with the Australian Government to boost responses to family and sexual violence.

Specialist family violence services are available if you or someone you know needs help:

Animal owners, shelters and veterinary clinics

Information for animal owners, veterinary clinics, animal shelters and boarding kennels is now available at coronavirus tas gov au.

Public transport

Travel on public transport is exempt from restrictions on gatherings, so there can be more than 10 people using a form of public transport. Passengers are encouraged to keep physical distancing in mind and choose a seat away from others where possible.

Bus travel with Metro Tasmania and Tassielink Transit is free for everyone until 31 May 2020 to give passengers still using cash time to get a free Greencard for contactless payment.

For businesses and employees

COVID-19 Safe Workplaces

Restrictions currently in place for businesses and gatherings will start to ease through a staged plan by the Tasmanian Government.

The Tasmanian Government has launched a COVID-19 Safe Workplaces Framework to support businesses and workplaces to continue to operate, or reopen, while protecting Tasmania’s health and safety.

Work health and safety advice

Employers must ensure the health and safety of workers and other people. This includes having measures in place to stop or manage the risks of COVID-19.

WorkSafe Tasmania provides links to COVID-19 health and safety resources, including industry-specific resources.

Employers are advised 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.

WorkSafe Tasmania’s Pandemic Plan Advice can guide you in protecting your workers and others at your workplace from COVID-19.

Heads Up gives individuals and businesses the tools to create more mentally healthy workplaces.

Support and advice

Businesses impacted by COVID-19 are encouraged to contact the Business Tasmania Hotline on 1800 440 026.

Business advice:

  • The Kingborough & Huon Business Enterprise Centre provides free advice to small businesses, including topics such as business planning, financial forecasting, tools and templates, and training.
  • Regional tourism organisation Destination Southern Tasmania also offers support and advice for its member businesses during the COVID-19 crisis. The organisation is calling on all tourism-related businesses to join its network by becoming a member for free!
  • If you have a business-related question or problem, you can receive free business advice by going to the Enterprise Centres Tasmania website or calling Business Tasmania on 1800 440 026 to be directed to an advisor.
  • The Tasmanian Government has boosted the Digital Ready for Business program to help businesses move online. Businesses are encouraged to take advantage of the free online resources available through the Digital Ready website.

Tourism: 

  • Tourism Tasmania are releasing four new ‘Talking Tourism’ Podcasts fortnightly, updating local tourism operators on the latest news and developments.
  • The Tourism Export Council’s Build Back Better webinar series provides tourism businesses with the latest information on how COVID-19 is impacting the industry.

Resources:

  • Buy Something Tasmanian is a new internet marketplace where you can list and sell your products and services to a new and wider range of customers than you currently have.
  • Local businesses can register on Restaurants Hobart to advertise that they are still open for takeaway or delivery. The website requires no commissions from listed businesses.
  • Eat Well Tasmania has launched a new app to support Tasmanian food producers by enabling people to buy fresh local produce while maintaining social distancing.

Financial support

COVID-19 business support, grants and loans are now available on the Business Tasmania website.

The ATO is running a free 60-minute webinar throughout May on how the Government’s stimulus package can help your small business.

Reputable financial advisory business BDO Australia is running webinars for organisations and individuals on how to be prepared, develop action plans, and manage risks during COVID-19.

Any Endorsed RTO can apply for the Train Now Fund program, which provides subsidised training for existing workers and sole traders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Industries

Safe Work Australia provides guidelines and information across 23 industries so that businesses can return to work in a COVID safe environment.

Agriculture, fisheries and forestry

The Business Council of Co-operatives and Mutual (BCCM) has launched the Co-operative Farming Hotline on 1300 665 174 (Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm) to support Australian farmers, fishers and foresters to work together to establish and grow farm co-operatives through the Co-operative Farming project.

The Tasmanian Government announced it will provide an additional $1.8 million for fisheries fees and licence relief for 12 months.

A new $110 million Commonwealth initiative will support access to key export markets for Australia’s agricultural and fisheries sector. The International Freight Assistance Mechanism will help to enable the export of our high-quality produce, with return flights bringing back vital medical supplies, medicines and equipment. You can express your interest at business.gov.au.

Changes to visa arrangements for seasonal workers will help farmers access the workforce they need.

Tasmanian forestry contractors can apply for funding to improve their business practices under the Forestry Contractor Resilience Program.

Employment help

The Australian Government has launched a Jobs Hub website to help Australians find work during the pandemic.

Not-for-profit provider Maxima Tasmania (1300 629 462) is available to help people find employment and navigate the Centrelink system, as well as provide ongoing support, for free. This includes its NDIS School Leaver Employment Support (SLES) program, which allows Year 12 students to prepare for work virtually and be supported in employment during COVID-19.

Maxima can also assist businesses that are looking for additional staff through free recruitment assistance and workplace assessments.

For accommodation, caravan and camping providers

Current restrictions

Restrictions on accommodation services still apply until Stage Two of easing of restrictions, which starts from 15 June (subject to Public Health advice).

All commercial accommodation, caravan and camping businesses in Tasmania may only accommodate visitors that fit select categories listed on coronavirus.tas.gov.au.

All visitors and non-Tasmanians that do not fit into the listed categories should have been checked out of their accommodation or be holding evidence of having booked travel to exit Tasmania on the first available flight or sailing on which they must travel.

RV sites

Huon Valley Council has closed all RV sites on Council-controlled land. No new campers will be accepted.

RV site operators should advise any interstate guests of the requirement to leave the state.

Emergency accommodation for travellers

Travellers needing to access emergency accommodation should contact the Public Health Hotline on 1800 671 738 for more information.

Council events and meetings

Council events

All Council-run events with gatherings of people are either postponed or cancelled, including committee meetings, excursions, social activities, talks, and learner driver mentoring sessions.

Council meetings

During the period of the COVID-19 emergency, all Council meetings will be held electronically without the public present.

Meeting information is available on the Meetings, Agendas & Minutes page.

Council sites and service delivery

Roadmap to Reopening

The Huon Valley Council Roadmap to Reopening gives a timeline for the reopening of Council sites over the coming weeks.

Customer Service Centre, Huonville

Our Customer Service Centre at 40 Main Street, Huonville will reopen for up to 7 customers at a time from 25 May 2020. 

To reduce the number of face-to-face interactions with the community and support COVID-19 containment measures, Council is seeking the community’s support in considering the way it interacts with Council. We encourage our community to contact us using our Online Services, or by phone or email.

By calling 6264 0300 or emailing hvc@huonvalley.tas.gov.au you can:

  • Make payments over the phone with credit or debit cards
  • Make enquiries or customer service requests
  • Scan and email documents and applications forms

Please follow Health Department advice regarding social distancing and protection measures:

  • Maintain a 1.5 metre distance from others, including Council Officers. This is easily achieved by standing 2 steps back from the counter.
  • It is ok to step closer to the counter if have to hand over cash or write on a form. Just keep these interactions as short as possible.
  • Wash hands or use hand sanitiser before visiting us, especially if you have to pay with cash or hand over application forms or documents.
  • If you need to cough please step back further from the counter and use your arm to cover the cough.
  • If you can’t stop coughing, it would be appreciated if you could come back at another time or conduct your business via email or over the phone.

Visitor centres and Geeveston Town Hall 

The Huon Valley Visitor Centre in Huonville and the Geeveston Visitor Centre, including the Geeveston Town Hall are currently closed to the public.

After a twelve-month review of Council’s delivery of visitor information services in the Huon Valley, the Visitor Information Centre in Huonville and visitor information space in Geeveston will be closing permanently.

The Geeveston Town Hall will reopen when it is safe to do so.

Waste management services

Our Kerbside Collection services remain unchanged and all four Waste Transfer Stations in Huonville, Geeveston, Dover and Cygnet are maintaining their normal opening hours.

EFTPOS facilities have been provided at the Dover, Cygnet and Huonville Waste Transfer Stations and we encourage customers to use their cards for payments at those locations. EFTPOS is now also available at the Geeveston Waste Transfer Station. Please be patient – it is slow due to poor internet reception.

For residents who normally utilise our Waste Transfer Stations but are currently unable to deliver their waste or recycling, we encourage you to seek the assistance of friends or family, or one of the local rubbish contractors, such as:

  • Huon Rubbish Removal – 0418 376 891
  • Dave’s Rubbish Run – 0418 311 181
  • Reliable Rubbish Removals – 0410 750 058

Council’s Re-use Shop in Huonville will reopen on 15 June.

Managing household waste

With the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in people spending more time at home, we may see an increase in household waste.

Tips for managing your household waste include:

  • Compost your food and garden waste. This video ‘Crisis Gardening: Food Waste Composting‘ provides a good how-to
  • Collapse cardboard boxes, cans and packaging before placing them in bins
  • Keep unwanted household items, furniture or appliances until the Southbridge Re-use Shop reopens
  • Avoid single-use and disposable products and use reusable alternatives instead
  • Opt for products with minimal packaging
  • Take re-usable shopping bags to the shops
  • Put a ‘No Junk Mail’ sign on your letterbox
  • Roll aluminium foil into a ball and put it in the recycling bin
  • Repurpose takeaway containers and glass jars for food storage
  • Check out our Recycling Guidance Videos for tips on how to recycle right
  • Separate your cardboard and glass before bringing it to a Waste Transfer Station

Recreation centres and pool closures

Council’s recreation centres will reopen on 13 July.

All pre-purchased entry passes will be extended for use on reopening.

Children’s Services

Huon Valley Council’s Child Care Centres remain open and our care hours have not changed. Staff are monitoring the latest expert health advice and are continuing to implement and explore changes to the way we do things to protect families. All our centres have additional hygiene and cleaning practices in place to ensure we continue to provide a healthy and safe environment.

After School Care is available 3pm to 6pm weekdays even if your child is not attending school. Please call the office on (03) 6264 0333 to book.

Updates will be provided here and on the Children’s Services Facebook page.

Council's COVID-19 response

Stronger Together

Council’s Stronger Together program supports the individuals, families, groups and businesses our communities to work together to recover from the crisis by finding new ways to live, work and play safely, and come out stronger on the other side.

On the Stronger Together page, you will find:

  • COVID-19 local news and updates
  • HEARTFELT project info & inspiration
  • HVC Quick Response Community Grants info
  • Community Issues and Ideas survey
  • Tips to Stay Connected
  • Emergency relief contacts
  • Business and development support resources
  • Community support resources

Emergency Relief

At its 8 April 2020 Ordinary Meeting, Council agreed to take the following emergency relief actions in response to the COVID-19 crisis:

  • Council will not apply penalty and interest charges on outstanding rates until 30 June 2020
  • Council will consider, on an individual basis, applications for rent relief on Council-owned buildings where lessees are experiencing financial hardship until 30 June 2020
  • Council will consider adoption of a Financial Hardship/Assistance Policy taking into account a Model Policy to be developed by the Local Government Association of Tasmania. (Draft policy to be presented at 29 April Ordinary Meeting.)
  • Council will not proceed with debt recovery actions for ratepayers experiencing financial difficulty until adoption of a Financial Hardship/Assistance Policy
  • For the purposes of development of the 2020/2021 Council Budget, the following principles are to be taken into account:
    • A zero% increase on the general rate
    • Rate service charges to be reflective of cost
    • Fees and charges may be increased taking into account the Consumer Price Index (CPI), costs of delivering the service, and other relevant factors
    • Options for relaxing depreciation requirements or extending standard asset life for 2020/2021 be considered based upon any criteria agreed with the Auditor-General (including asset condition) and subject to the Auditor-General adjusting financial indicators accordingly
  • Council will create a Community Grants program to be focussed on appropriate support to local business and not-for-profit recovery or conversion to a digital environment or circular economy
  • Supporting local businesses through the procurement of goods and services. The Huon Valley Council General Manager is authorised to request and accept quotes from local business only, up to an amount of $249,999.99
  • Where possible and practicable to do so, Council will settle creditor invoices within a 14 day timeframe irrespective of normal trading terms

For the full report and details on provisions please read the 8 April 2020 Meeting Minutes on Meetings, Agendas & Minutes page.

Financial hardship support

Huon Valley Council’s Financial Hardship and Payment Assistance Policy provides assistance to ratepayers and community members experiencing difficulty in meeting financial obligations to Council due to genuine financial hardship.

If you are currently experiencing hardship and have received your rates instalment notice to pay, please contact Council’s Customer Service Office. Our officers will be able to discuss with you the options that are currently available to support you during this time.

Community recovery

The Huon Valley Council’s Emergency Management Team, coordinated by the Emergency Management and Community Recovery Coordinators, has been activated. The Emergency Management Team has established a Recovery Work Group, which will be working with the Regional Emergency and Recovery Committees to channel information to and from the State Control Centre.

The Coordinators have responsibility for coordinating a local approach to the pandemic which complements the State and Federal Government’s response. This is supported locally through a coordinated social and economic recovery effort, with both Coordinators working closely with community organisations, businesses and agencies, as well as neighbouring Councils, to implement the Huon Valley Recovery Action Plan.

If you are aware of someone in need in the community or have concerns on a developing situation that the Council’s Emergency Management Team could help with, please call us on (03) 6264 0300 or email the details to the coordinators to recovery@huonvalley.tas.gov.au.

Visit Stronger Together for more local recovery initiatives.