DOUGLAS Shire Council is prepared for any potential impacts of the COVID-19 virus.

While no cases have been detected in our health district, Council is taking a precautionary approach and following advice from the lead agency – Queensland Health.

Council’s Chief Executive Officer Mark Stoermer said senior management would continue to meet regularly to minimize the impact on the community.

“The key here is to remain calm and practice good hygiene,” he said.

“Our management team has plans in place to ensure the continued supply of critical services such as water, wastewater and waste collection and disposal.

“Over the next few weeks, some staff will be trialling working from home and practicing other social distancing behaviours to prepare for any outbreak.

“We have also raised awareness to all staff in line with the national advice.”

Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday announced several measures aimed at slowing the spread of COVID-19, which included the banning all non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people.

Council is currently reviewing Port Douglas Carnivale 2020 in line with this health advice.

A decision will be made once Council has spoken to sponsors, suppliers, performers and contractors.

The Port Douglas Markets will continue to operate for now.

“Council is closely monitoring the situation and senior management is meeting regularly to review business operations and service delivery,” Mr Stoermer said.

The Douglas Local Disaster Management Group is liaising with core members, advisors and the District Disaster Management Group.

Anyone with concerns can call 13 HEALTH or find up-to-date reliable information on the Queensland Health website at www.health.qld.gov.au/coronavirus.

Please contact enquiries@douglas.qld.gov.au or call 4099 9444 if you have any questions about council services.

Queensland Health provides timely health advice and Council encourages everyone to visit the link below for the most up to information and advice.

Worried? Take the COVID-19 coronavirus quiz http://ow.ly/xmKx50yMtCF

Council has published a list of frequently asked questions that will be updated as the situation evolves.

QLD Health advice

Frequently Asked Questions

What has Council done to prepare for COVID-19?

Below is a list of steps Council has taken regarding the novel coronavirus (COVID-19).

  • Council has Business Continuity Plans (BCPs) to ensure the continued supply of critical services such as water, wastewater and waste collection and disposal.
  • Staff will be trialling working from home and other working patterns that promote social distancing in preparation for a potential local outbreak.
  • Council has invested in Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and will be placing educational symptom posters, as well as touch-free sanitizers at key council facilities.
  • Council has raised awareness to all staff in line with the latest national advice.
  •  The Douglas Local Disaster Management Group is liaising with core members, advisors and the District Disaster Management Group.
  • Residents and visitors are encouraged to practice good hygiene by hand washing, covering sneezes and staying home if you are sick.

Council is taking a calm and precautionary approach to slowing the transmission of COVID-19 – please refer to the resources available online at www.health.qld.gov.au/coronavirus.

By working closely with Queensland Heath, Council is also actively raising awareness and sharing information to key agencies and the community.

What about Port Douglas Carnivale?

Port Douglas Carnivale 2020 has been postponed in line with recommendations from the Federal Government on non-essential mass gatherings.

Douglas Shire Council will investigate the possibility of holding aspects of the festival, originally scheduled for May this year, as part of its economic recovery to the COVID-19 pandemic at a future date.

As the COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation, Council will continually monitor the latest health advice and review the circumstances before a public announcement about a future date.

Council encourages everyone to visit QLD Health’s website for the most up-to-date information.

https://www.health.qld.gov.au/clinical-practice/guidelines-procedures/diseases-infection/diseases/coronavirus/public-info-novel-coronavirus

Will COVID-19 impact the Local Government Elections?

The Electoral Commission of Queensland (ECQ) is implementing a range of extra measures for the 2020 local government elections to make sure that a safe environment is provided to Queenslanders voting in the elections.

Applications for postal votes will close at 7pm on Monday, 16 March 2020, in accordance with the Local Government Electoral Act 2011.

This deadline is established under the legislation for the election on 28 March and cannot be altered by the ECQ.

Additionally, the ECQ will be implementing a range of new measures for people attending early voting centres and polling booths to vote in-person.

This includes sourcing additional supplies of hand sanitiser for use by voters at polling booths. Due to high levels of demand, these supplies are expected to be available at early voting centres by mid-week.

Voters are also encouraged to bring their own pen or pencil with them to vote as an additional hygiene precaution.

Other measures include:

  • Additional cleaning of polling booth areas will be undertaken to ensure that all surfaces are regularly disinfected.
  • Extra staff will be employed at polling booths to assist with queue control and monitoring numbers of people in attendance.
  • Vote issuing tables and screens will be positioned to maximise distance between all people in attendance.
  • New measures will be implemented to take votes of residents of aged care facilities which were to be ‘declared institutions’.

For more information, visit: https://www.ecq.qld.gov.au/media

Should we attend the Port Douglas Markets?

The Port Douglas Markets will continue to operate for now.

Council is closely monitoring the situation and senior management is meeting regularly to review business operations and service delivery.

The markets will remain open until such as time that Council believes the level of attendees exceeds the health authorities’ advice.

Council is encouraging anyone, including stallholders, who may have symptoms to avoid the area and practice social distancing.

You can stay updated at Council’s website and Facebook page.

Council will be following the advice of the Australian Government and Queensland Health for its own events.

Council encourages everyone to visit QLD Health’s website for the most up-to-date information.

https://www.health.qld.gov.au/clinical-practice/guidelines-procedures/diseases-infection/diseases/coronavirus/public-info-novel-coronavirus

Can we go to the Mossman Library?

At this stage, the Mossman Library and Port Douglas Libary will remain open.

Council has stationed hand sanitizers and awareness posters at the library to encourage good hygiene practices such as hand washing.

As a precautionary measure to reduce the risk of COVID-19 within the community, Council would like to advise the following cancellation and changes to regular events, programs and initiatives, effective immediately.

  • Baby Rhyme Time – Cancelled
  • Storytime – Cancelled
  • Tech-Savvy Senior Workshops – Cancelled
  • Lego & K’Nex – Cancelled
  • Music & Song – Cancelled

Council would like to encourage the use of their after-hours return chute & the e-services available here.

Where can we be tested?

Anyone with concerns can call 13 HEALTH or find up-to-date reliable information on the Queensland Health website at www.health.qld.gov.au/coronavirus.

Queensland Health advises that only people who meet the following criteria will be tested for COVID-19:

• fever or respiratory symptoms AND
• have travelled to overseas in the past 14 days OR have had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days.

Also, QLD Health is prioritising people who are unwell and don’t provide back to work clearance.

Worried? Take the COVID-19 coronavirus quiz http://ow.ly/xmKx50yMtCF

How will Council help businesses recover from the disaster?

Council is aware of the challenges faced by our businesses and will work with all levels of government, Tourism Port Douglas Daintree and the Douglas Chamber of Commerce to support our business sector.