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How Does a Body Corporate React to Covid-19?

By John Steel

How Does a Body Corporate React to Covid-19?

This is the story of how Body Corporate Apartment X (BCAX) has responded to COVID-19. Other Bodies Corporate may find this useful in determining their own courses of action.

My first experience of living in an apartment was in February 2020.

Four weeks later I am on the cleaning roster of a Body Corporate Apartment X (BCAX) with a spray bottle of Bio-Zyme, a Glitz multi-cloth and a set of cleaning instructions. I am 1 of 4, as other owners have been exempted for a number of reasons including age, physical disabilities or persons in the medical profession.

Set out below is an example of what BCAX has put in place to deal with Covid-19, and what any other Body Corporate committee may consider as part of their own response.

Call a Meeting

The chairperson prepared an agenda and called a meeting of the committee members.

For BCAX the agenda covered the following items (noting that each Body Corporate will have its own unique list).

  1. Register of Members
  2. Communication
  3. Cleaning
  4. Rubbish
  5. Use of Lifts
  6. Deliveries and Tradesman
  7. Notification of Testing

The key aim was to get an early communication out to all the owners on how the Body Corporate would deal with Covid-19 during the lock-down period.

In the case of BCAX, the committee was particularly aware that the majority of owners were over 70 years of age. It was important to ensure that those who had chosen to stay in the apartment building had confidence that a plan was in place that had all owners’ health and safety as a priority, and that those who were vulnerable had a contact point and could rely on the assistance of fellow owners.

A roster of who was staying in the apartment and any visitors was drawn up for distribution to each owner with explanations of movements where applicable. Any change of occupancy could also be notified to the committee.

A timetable for the committee to have regular phone conferences was agreed at the initial meeting. This was important to monitor what is working, what is not working, dealing with issues raised by owners and communicating the outcome to all owners. Any required meetings during lock-down would be carried out via video linking, or by telephone conference.

Register of Members

It is important to establish who will be staying in the apartment building during the lock-down period, the circumstance of each owner, and that contact details are up to date. This is particularly helpful when determining who is considered a high risk so as to minimise their contact with others and exempt them from things like cleaning rosters or dealing with the collection or sorting of rubbish.

For BCAX one of the owners had allowed a friend (an essential health worker) to occupy their apartment during the lock-down period. This change was communicated to all the other owners so all were aware of the background to the occupant.

It is also important to update the Owner’s Register of any changes of contact details.

Communication

Agree on a communication platform that all owners have access to and can use.

BCAX used WhatsApp to deliver its communications.

Cleaning

Agree on a cleaning roster. BCAX had to determine who in the apartment could carry out the cleaning roster.

For BCAX it was determined that those who were over 70 years of age, or had some physical impairment, or worked in the medical profession were exempt.

Set out below for example is the BCAX cleaning roster instructions:

When undertaking cleaning, please wash your hands before and after; please use your own gloves (we had thought of supplying gloves, but believe people will be more comfortable using their own), ensuring that they do not get contaminated; please dispose of them once used. In terms of the cloths to be used for wiping down the insides of the lift and the common areas, please use disposable cloths or kitchen paper towels and dispose after use.

The areas to be cleaned are:

  • the lift handrails and buttons;
  • the entrance foyer (lift call button, fire door plate, table and post box area, the front door exit button);
  • the door handles to the carparks on ground level and basement level;
  • the garage door button;
  • the door handles of the two doors leading to the rubbish chute;
  • the handles of the storage unit area in the basement;
  • the handles on the recycling bins.

In this case BCAX provided the disinfectant, spray bottles and cloths.

It was determined that it was sensible, and would be reassuring, to affix the roster in the foyer so that it could be marked off each time cleaning was completed. That way all residents are aware that the task has been undertaken, and when.

Rubbish

The collection of rubbish and recycling is deemed an essential service so business as usual.

Use of Lifts

Set out below is how the BCAX dealt with the use of lifts:

Use of the lifts (one at a time and taking care inside it); obviously it is important that the two metre distance advisory is respected. To ensure we comply, only one household should enter the lift at any one time. It might be slightly inconvenient, from time to time, to have to wait your turn, but those are the times we are in. In addition, when inside the lift please resist the temptation to touch the handrail or buttons with your hands. Some people are using disposable tissues each time they use the lift and/or using the end of a key or their elbow. These all help reduce the potential of spread.

Deliveries and Tradesman

The key point here is that anyone ordering deliveries or requiring a tradesman should be physically in attendance at the apartment building to meet the delivery or deal with the tradesman. The BCAX also provided contact numbers for various tradesman (being essential services) who had made themselves available.

Notification for Testing

The message here is that should anyone in the apartment building be required to be tested, or test positive, or come into contact with somebody who has been tested, or who has tested positive, that they notify each other through the chosen communication channel. This will then allow the Committee to consider how it manages the movement of people in the building.

If you would like further advice on how your body corporate should respond under alert level 4, please contact:
 

John Steel | email John | P: 04 916 7495
Dahl Calder | email Dahl | P: 04 916 7473
Topics: COVID-19 , Property