Last updated 30 March 2020
Australia is experiencing an outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19). This virus has spread quickly across the world. In Australia, we have been able to take steps to slow the rate of infection. To continue this trend, we all need to work together to help stop the spread of COVID-19.
COVID-19 can cause respiratory infections, ranging from the common cold to more serious diseases. Older people (people age 60+), and people with compromised immune systems, are among those at risk of the more serious forms of Coronavirus
Even if you are feeling well it is important to take steps to prevent the spread of this virus. Good hygiene and taking care when interacting with other people, are the best defences for you and your family against COVID-19.
The spread of COVID-19 and Australia’s response is evolving. We will update this page as more information becomes available. The information on this page is based on the latest advice from the Australian Government, the Queensland Government and World Health Organisation.
30 March – NEW app, extended physical distancing measures, advice for older Australians and rental protections
The National Cabinet met on Sunday 29 March 2020, to take further action to slow the spread of the COVID-19 to save lives and livelihoods. Read the Prime Minister’s statement here.
- $1.1 billion has been announced to boost mental health services, domestic violence support, Medicare assistance for people at home and emergency food relief.
- To keep you informed the Australian Government has launched a new app for your mobile phone or tablet called Coronavirus Australia, which is available from the Apple App Store and on Google Play
- coronavirus channel on What’sApp that you can access on your mobile phone, tablet or computer. You will need to create a FREE account to access the information.
NEW physical distancing orders now include:
Indoor and outdoor public gatherings now limited to two persons with exemptions of:
- People of the same household going out together;
- Funerals – a maximum of 10 people;
- Wedding – a maximum of 5 people;
- Family units.
All Queensland residents must stay in their except for:
- shopping for essentials – food and necessary supplies;
- medical or health care needs, including compassionate requirements;
- exercise with no more than one other person (unless from your household);
- providing care or assistance to an immediate family member;
- work and study if you can’t work or learn remotely
Read the Chief Health Officer’s home confinement direction here.
Older Australians are strongly advised to self-isolate at home and to limit contact with others as much as possible when travelling outside. This includes people who are:
- over 70 years of age;
- over 60 years of age who have existing health conditions or comorbidities;
- indigenous Australians over the age of 50 who have existing health conditions or comorbidities.
Read COTA Australia’s media release here,
Find things to do here.
National Cabinet agreed to a moratorium on evictions over the next six months for commercial and residential tenancies in financial distress who are unable to meet their commitments due to the impact of coronavirus.
COTA Queensland Chief Executive Mark Tucker-Evans is speaking with Minister Mick de Brenni, Minister for Housing and Public Works later this week and we will update our website with information as it becomes available.
26 March – Coronavirus testing criteria expanded
The National Cabinet met on Wednesday 25 March 2020, to discuss enhanced health measures to support efforts to test quickly and contract tracing in our communities. Coronavirus testing has been extended to include people with fever or acute respiratory infection in:
- all health workers
- all aged/residential care workers
- geographically localised areas where there is elevated risk of community transmission as defined by the local public health unit
- where no community transmission is occurring, high risk settings where there are two or more plausibly-linked cases, for example:
- aged and residential care
- rural and remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities
- detention centres/correctional facilities
- boarding schools
- military bases (including Navy ships) that have live-in accommodation.
National Cabinet also agreed that testing will be expanded to include hospitalised patients with fever and acute respiratory symptoms of unknown cause, at the discretion of the treating clinician.
This is the minimum testing criteria. States and territories have the discretion to expand their own criteria for testing if they have capacity.
Read the Prime Minister’s media release here: www.pm.gov.au/media/national-cabinet-update
26 March – NEW Physical distancing rules now in effect
In a press conference on Tuesday 23 March 2020, Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said to “stay in your state, stay in your suburb” as the coronavirus pandemic continues to sweep through the state.
This is in addition to the national laws restricting the following facilities from opening:
- Pubs, registered and licenced clubs (excluding bottle shops attached to these venues), hotels (excluding accommodation)
- Beauty, nail, and tattoo shops, massage (excluding health related)
- Gyms and indoor sporting venues
- Amusement parks and arcades
- Indoor and outdoor play centres
- Community and recreation centres, health clubs, fitness centres, yoga, barre, spin facilities, saunas, wellness centres
- Public swimming pools
- Galleries, museums, national institutions, historic sites, libraries, community centres
- Auction houses
- Real estate auctions and open house inspections
- In-store beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, nail salons and tattoo parlours, spa and massage parlours (excluding allied-health-related services, like physiotherapy)
- Food courts within shopping centres will only be able to sell takeaway. Shopping centres themselves will remain open
- Restaurants and cafes will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery
Specifics around a number of activities are:
- Hairdressers and barber shops can continue, but must follow the 4sqm rule per person
- Personal training and boot camps are limited to a maximum of 10 people
- Weddings can continue, but only with the couple, the celebrant, and witnesses totalling a maximum of five people
- Funerals are limited to a maximum of 10 people – in hardship cases, States and Territories can provide exemptions in relation to attendance at funerals, but only at the margin
- Outdoor and indoor food markets will be addressed by individual states and territories
These measure builds on from the existing measures of:
- No non-essential gatherings of more than 500 people outside or more than 100 people inside.
- All non-essential indoor gatherings of less than 100 people must have no more than one person per 4sqm. All Australians should expect their local businesses to be following this rule.
- Where possible, keep 1.5 metres between yourself and others
- Avoid non essential travel
- Restrictions on entering aged care homes to protect older Australians
Read the Prime Minister’s media statements here:
26 March – Queensland border closed
As of 12.01am Thursday 26 March 2020, Queensland will closed its border.
Anyone travelling into Queensland will be required to self quarantine for 14 days regardless if they are sick or not.
Authorities will be on the road from 12.01am Thursday in RBT-style road blocks to enforce Queensland’s border lockdown, with Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk saying people in northern New South Wales should come for essential business only.
There will be exemptions for: Freight, emergency vehicles, emergency workers, those travelling to and from work, court orders including family court, compassionate grounds and medical treatment.
Penalties include fines of up to $13,345.
The border crackdown will cover road, rail, sea and air with anyone who has non-essential travel booked urged to cancel or postpone immediately.
Read Premier Palaszczuk’s media statement here: statements.qld.gov.au/Statement/2020/3/24/border-control-slows-virus-spread
21 March – NEW Community Recovery Hotline – a line for essential food and medications
Queenslanders in home quarantine as a result of COVID-19 will be able to access advice, information and support through the Queensland Government’s Community Recovery Hotline.
The Community Recovery Hotline on 1800 173 349 may also be used by people who for social and emotional telephone support.
At this time the hotline is only for people in quarantine, and only for those who have no other support mechanisms.
17 March – Local Government Election
COTA Queensland Chief Executive, Mark Tucker-Evans commended the Electoral Commission Queensland (ECQ) for initiating special voting times between 9:00am and 11:00am daily for more vulnerable electors including people aged 60 year and over.
Older people are more susceptible to getting sick with COVID-19 particularly those who have chronic illnesses and who may have a weakened immune system.
Pre-polling is available at 128 early voting centres between 9:00am and 9:00pm on Wednesday and Thursday this week and next week and on Saturday 21 March between 9:00am and 5:00pm. All details for the 2020 local government elections is available on www.ecq.qld.gov.au.
Residential aged care residents will be able to participate in the local government election by way of phone voting.
19 March – Special supermarket opening hours for older Australians
Special measures, such as additional opening hours, have been introduced at major supermarkets to help older Australians, and people with disabilities, get access to the supplies they need.
Two major retailers are opening one hour prior to their revised usual trading hours. For Woolworths and Coles this is currently occurring from 07:00am to 08:00am each day. But hours may vary by store, so check with your local supermarket.
These special hours are available exclusively for older people and people with a disability. You will be asked to present your Australian Government (Centrelink) issued Pensioner Concession Card or Commonwealth Seniors Health Card, and Health Care Card or your state Government issued ‘Seniors Cards’ or ‘Companion card’.
Other supermarkets may also have special arrangements for older people. Please contact your local supermarket directly for more information.
I received an email/sms/phone call about COVID-19 from someone I don’t trust – is it a scam?
Unfortunately, there have been multiple reports of scams related to COVID-19. For the most accurate and up-to-date information on COVID-19, please rely on Australian Government material.
If you receive communication that you think may be a scam, delete the messages. Do not open any attachments, and do not click on any links. If you think someone may have accessed your financial information, contact your bank immediately.
For the most up-to-date information on scams in Australia, please go to https://www.staysmartonline.gov.au/ or call 1300 292 371.
We understand that this a confusing and unpredictable time, but we ask that you look out for one another. Older people are one of the groups most vulnerable to the virus. It is important that we all practice good hygiene and take sensible precautions to keep ourselves and each other safe.
What is COTA Queensland doing?
COTA Queensland’s Chief Executive continues to be involved in discussions about the COVID-19 pandemic with government officials and staff are informed through various credible sources.
We are receiving regular updates from the State government, from the Federal Government through the Department of Health and also through COTA Australia, as well as through the World Health Organisation. We are involved on an ongoing basis in discussions about the pandemic, its impacts on older people and on the aged care sector, and Government responses to address these impacts and we will keep you updated as things develop.
We have also made changes to the way we work. This includes:
- Staff working from home, communicating and collaborating virtually.
- Minimising travel, including interstate travel.
- Limiting larger face to face meetings and converting meetings to video where possible.
- Limiting our involvement in public events and postponing planned public events that cannot be held virtually.
Aside from these changes we are all continuing our work as usual and we meet virtually on a regular basis. Our phones are forwarded, so you can be assured we are available as usual continuing to advocate for Queenslanders as we age, whatever the circumstances.