COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)

The health and safety of our community and staff is Huon Valley Council’s number one priority and we are putting measures in place to respond to the COVID-19 (novel coronavirus) pandemic.

We want to do everything we can to act responsibly and help slow the spread of the virus. This will allow our local health services to keep up with demand and help protect those who are most at risk.

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

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

Useful links:

Printable resources:

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

Updates from Council

For families and individuals

Gatherings

Australians are strongly advised to stay home unless for necessary shopping, medical or health care needs, exercise in compliance with public gatherings requirements, and work/study if these can’t be done remotely. A Frequently Asked Questions fact sheet about restrictions on gatherings is now available.

Indoor and outdoor gatherings are currently limited to two persons only. Exceptions to the two person rule apply, including gatherings in the home (household members only), at work and at school. Please visit coronavirus.tas.gov.au for the full list of exceptions.

It is also 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 stay at home as much as possible to protect their health.

This does not mean that they are unable to leave home for essential services or supplies, or to visit loved ones for social support and connection. Just be extra careful to avoid unwell visitors.

Support for 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.

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. Your employer will notify you if they intend to claim the fortnightly payment of $1,500 on your behalf.

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.

Schools

No school sites are currently closed. Parents can choose to keep their children home and many schools have made learning materials for students of all age groups that are staying home: education.tas.gov.au/learning-at-home

There is no need to keep your child home from school or childcare if they are well and do not meet the criteria for self-isolation.

Tasmanian public school students will now finish for the Easter break on Friday 3 April. Teachers will stay at school between 6-9 April to undertake professional learning days.

Useful links:

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

Early childhood education and care 

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

Our Child Care Centres in Huonville, Geeveston and Dover continue to run and are following hygiene and social distancing advice from the Department of Health.

The Huon Valley Children’s Services April 2020 Vacation Care program is open for bookings.

In a letter to early childhood education and care providers and services, Deputy Secretary Dr Ros Baxtor advised that  the Australian Government has amended Family Assistance Law and made minister’s rules to support families and early childhood education and care services to manage COVID-19.

Public transport

You can still use public transport if it is for the purposes of  attending school or work or obtaining supplies or attending medical, or health care, appointments or for medical treatment. Non-essential travel is to be avoided.

Please follow social distancing advice when on public transport.

For community groups, sports clubs and committees

New venue closures have come into effect which mean many facilities, businesses, sporting and cultural activities are no longer permitted.

From midnight 30 March, indoor and outdoor gatherings are limited to two persons only. Exceptions to the two person rule apply, including gatherings in the home (household members only), at work and at school. Please visit coronavirus.tas.gov.au for the full list of exceptions.

Huon Valley Council community halls are temporarily closed until further notice.

Groups, clubs and committees are encouraged to look at ways to meet and communicate online.

A Frequently Asked Questions fact sheet about restrictions on gatherings is now available.

For businesses and employees

Operational restrictions

New venue closures and restrictions on gatherings have come into effect which mean many public venues and commercial activities are now longer permitted.

Restaurants, cafes and other “sit in” eateries are now only allowed to offer food as take away and/or home delivery.

Read our Advice For Food Businesses news item to find out about the new restrictions and how they may affect you and your business.

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

What to tell staff

  • How to stay informed and the best sources of information (coronavirus.tas.gov.au and Australian Government Department of Health website)
  • how to protect yourself and others
  • what to do if they have travelled interstate and overseas in the previous 14 days
  • the employer’s expectations that staff will follow instructions provided by Public Health Services
  • non-essential meetings or conferences of critical workforces such as healthcare professionals and emergency services should be limited
  • do not travel overseas unless essential
  • social distancing measures must be followed

Workplace cleaning

  • Review your cleaning and sanitising practices to ensure surfaces such as door handles, handles to refrigerators, tap handles and other ‘high touch’ areas are subject to frequent and effective cleaning
  • Display signage reminding staff and customers of the importance of social distancing and hand washing. Posters and info sheets can be found at coronavirus.tas.gov.au.

Financial support

The Tasmanian Government is providing further support and economic stimulus to help businesses and Tasmanians affected by COVID-19. This involves a commitment of $985 million to support health, businesses, jobs, households, individuals and community.

Information about Australian Government support for individuals/households and businesses is available at treasury.gov.au/coronavirus.

Building and construction

Building and construction remains an essential activity under Public Health guidelines. Everyone involved in this sector should have a strong focus on measures to minimise risk of contracting COVID-19.

WorkSafe Tasmania provides links to COVID-19 health and safety resources including industry-specific resources for those working on and around building and construction sites.

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 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.

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

For accommodation, caravan and camping providers

Venue closures

On 25 March, 2020 the Tasmanian State Government announced additional coronavirus management measures. These measures include further prohibited activities and venues, which include caravan and camping parks.

People who are staying at commercial accommodation in Tasmania have until 11.59pm on Wednesday 1 April 2020 to depart. (Exceptions apply.)

All commercial accommodation, caravan and camping businesses in Tasmania may only accommodate visitors that fit the following categories:

  • Tasmanian workers
  • Interstate workers deemed as Essential Workers
  • Permanent residents – permanent residents are those who permanently reside in caravan parks, hotels and hostels
  • People that are in a self-isolation period (who must vacate at the end of the 14 day required period)
  • People who have been directed by Government to enter into self-isolation. These people will be allocated to those properties that have been listed by the Tasmanian Department of Communities.

Essential Workers categories may be found on www.coronavirus.tas.gov.au. The Secretary of DPIPWE has discretionary powers in considering and approving applications for non-Tasmanian workers.

Students that are residing in commercial accommodation on a permanent basis are permitted to stay on but will require a letter from their education institution verifying their student status.

RV sites

Huon Valley Council has closed all RV sites on Council-controlled land effective 12:00am Monday 30 March 2020. No new campers will be accepted.

RV site operators should advise any interstate guests of the requirement to leave the state by 11.59pm on Wednesday 1 April 2020

I am a Tasmanian resident living permanently at an RV site on Council-controlled land

You will need to relocate to an alternate RV site. We recommend moving to a legitimate Caravan Park, such as Dover Beachside Caravan Park, Southport Hotel and Caravan Park, the Huon Valley Caravan Park, Cygnet Caravan Park or others in the Channel area, such as Snug Beach Caravan Park. Please contact the site to confirm whether they are staying open and accepting new people to stay.

Caravan parks and Spirit of Tasmania additional capacity

The Spirit of Tasmania has scheduled extra day sailings on the 3rd, 4th and 6th April to enable all non-essential workers and visitors with caravans and campervans to leave the state. The previously advised deadline of 11.59 pm 1st April 2020 for caravan parks to accommodate people waiting to travel will be extended to cater for this situation.

How can you help your visitors leave by the required date?

Advise your visitors that they need to make bookings now to depart Tasmania by the required date. This is a matter of urgency.

The Tasmanian Government is working with the Spirit of Tasmania and the airlines to ensure capacity is available for interstate and international visitors to leave Tasmania.

If your guests are having trouble getting through to carriers to make or confirm their bookings, please advise them to remain patient. All carriers are working hard to accommodate travellers within the announced restrictions.

Emergency accommodation for travellers

Emergency accommodation will be made available to travellers who are affected by the closure of accommodation facilities in Tasmania and who arrived in Tasmania on or before 28 March 2020. Travellers arriving after 28 March 2020 will be required to self-isolate for 14 days in government provided self accommodation.

A list of available accommodation for travellers can be found on the Department of Communities Tasmania website.

More information can be found at coronavirus.tas.gov.au.

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.

The following Ordinary Meetings of the Huon Valley Council have been rescheduled.

Wed 25 March → Wed 8 April
Wed 22 April → Wed 29 April
Wed 20 May → Wed 27 May
Wed 17 June → Wed 24 June

The meetings will be held electronically without the public present.

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

Council sites and service delivery

Customer Service Centre, Huonville

The Huon Valley Council has made the difficult decision to close its Customer Service Centre at 40 Main Street, Huonville from close-of-business Friday 27 March 2020.

This is an unfortunate measure but one that we consider necessary to protect our staff and community against COVID-19.

We encourage our community to stay safe and minimise your face-to-face interactions by considering if your contact with Council is time-sensitive and if you could lodge your request via the internet or phone.

Many transactions and service requests can be dealt with via our Online Services.

These include:

  • Payments for Rates, application fees, licences and registrations
  • Customer Service Requests for roads, waste management, environmental health and animals

Other ways you can contact us include:

  • Email via hvc@huonvalley.tas.gov.au (application lodgements such as planning and plumbing will need to be done this way)
  • Phone us on (03) 6264 0300

Please note that anyone needing a Justice of the Peace will need to phone and make an appointment.

We are continually assessing and implementing ways that we can deliver essential services through non face-to-face ways of communicating. Thank you for bearing with us while we work through these challenges.

Updates will be provided on this page and on the Huon Valley Council Facebook page.

Visitor centres, Geeveston Town Hall and Re-Use Shop

Council has announced the temporary closure of the following facilities from close-of-business 24 March 2020: 

  • Huon Valley Visitor Centre in Huonville
  • Geeveston Visitor Centre and Geeveston Town Hall
  • Re-Use Shop at the Southbridge Waste Transfer Station (Huonville)

The closures will last for at least two weeks and are under active review.

Waste management

Kerbside Collection services remain unchanged.

All four Waste Transfer Stations in Huonville, Geeveston, Dover and Cygnet are maintaining their normal opening hours.

Waste Management is considered an essential service and accordingly, residents are permitted to leave their homes in order to dispose of waste at our facilities.

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. Unfortunately, there is no EFTPOS machine at the Geeveston Waste Transfer Station 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

Recreation centres and pool closures

In the interest of public safety, we have made the decision to close all of the Council’s Recreation Centres and Swimming Pools effective from close of business Friday 20 March 2020.

Following the closure of a number of other centres and pools in the south of the state, Council has reviewed its operations and after an assessment, has decided to close the centres. Our staff will continue to work on site undertaking some maintenance and program work during this period.

All pre-purchased entry pass will be frozen and 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.

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

How you can help reduce the risk

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.

Many transactions and service requests can be dealt with via 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.