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Coronavirus Update 25/11/21

Dear Families and Guardians,

Over recent months Mercy Connect has experienced many challenges and significant impacts with COVID-19 outbreaks in both the Albury-Wodonga and Central West regions. Although these have been difficult times, I am pleased to see the strong commitment and continued adherence to social distancing, use of PPE, and hygiene protocols.

These safety-focused practices, together with the successful transition of mandatory vaccinations, have greatly reduced the risk of infection within our Mercy community. I am extremely thankful for everyone’s positive contributions as we continue to provide a safe work environment.

Please find the following updated information for all staff, participants, parents and guardians, including helpful reminders on how we can each ensure that Mercy Connect remains a safe place for everyone.

NSW Government Advice  

In line with advice from NSW Government, staff must not enter the facility at all if they:

  • are a close contact of a person with confirmed COVID-19 in the last 14 days,
  • are a casual contact of a person with confirmed COVID-19 and have not returned at least one negative PCR test,
  • are unable to provide evidence of having received a COVID-19 vaccine as per the Public Health (COVID-19 Care Services) Order 2021. On very rare occasions, there may be a medical contraindication to COVID-19 vaccination. A COVID-19 valid medical contraindication certificate is required in this circumstance.
  • have COVID-19 symptoms,
  • are waiting for a COVID-19 test result or
  • have been overseas in the previous 14 days unless they are fully vaccinated and have received a negative PCR test 7 days or later after their arrival.

Visitors

The above guidelines similarly apply to all visitors at Mercy Connect’s facilities.

Visitors to Accommodation residences:

  • Two visitors aged 12 years and over plus 2 visitors under 12 years per resident per day.
  • All visitors aged 12 years and over must be fully vaccinated (unless in exceptional circumstances for visiting an RDCF.
  • All visitors (Accommodation and Corporate Offices) aged 16 years and over must be fully vaccinated (or have a valid medical exemption).
  • All visitors must have proof of vaccination or a valid medical exemption which needs to be sighted before being permitted into Accommodation and Corporate Office areas.
  • All visitors must complete the Mercy Connect ‘COVID-19 Declaration’ form prior to entering our premises. All completed forms must be provided to Debbie White at reception@mercyconnect.org.au.

Accommodation 

Residents are permitted to leave Mercy Connect owned / operated accommodation to exercise, for recreational activities or to attend small family gatherings provided they adhere to the restrictions within the  Public Health (COVID-19 General) Order 2021 (the Order).

Residents should not leave the accommodation if they have COVID-19 symptoms until they have been tested and have received a negative result.

There are directions in the Order relating to vaccination requirements including that all people aged 16 years and over must be fully vaccinated to visit:

  • hospitality venues such as a café or restaurant,
  • cinemas,
  • group classes and activities at recreation facilities,
  • retail outlets (not including essential services such as a supermarket or pharmacy).

Residents must wear a mask at indoor venues and when on public transport.

Residents must be provided with appropriate personal protective equipment, infection control and mask-wearing advice if they need to leave the facility.

If a person cannot wear a face mask because of a disability, physical or mental health illness or condition, they must carry either:

  • a valid medical certificate or letter signed by a registered health practitioner (such as a doctor) or a registered NDIS provider or
  • a statutory declaration.

Day Program 

In arranging activities, day program activities require COVID-19 safe practices including:

  • encouraging all residents to be fully vaccinated,
  • ensuring everyone wears a mask when indoors, unless they are exempted,
  • encouraging regular use of alcohol-based hand sanitiser,
  • maintaining a distance of at least 1.5 meters from other people,
  • have COVID-19 safety plans in place.

Staff and participants should not attend if they have any COVID-19 symptoms.

Where participants are not fully vaccinated, flexible options should be considered including online service delivery, individual activities and the avoidance of group interactions unless the participants are from the same household.

Face Masks 

Effective today, face masks will not be required in office settings (until further notice), with the exceptions of:

  • Day Program (indoor) activities.
  • Participant (indoor) interactions.
  • Provision of direct support to our participants in Accommodation settings.

Although these restrictions have been eased, I strongly urge all staff to continue practising the 1.5m social distancing rules, wearing appropriate PPE, and maintaining hygiene protocols and practices.

QR Code 

All staff (and approved external visitors) must continue to check-in using the Service NSW QR code, which is located at all Mercy Connect locations.

Mercy Connect communications are also available on our website https://mercyconnect.org.au/ and through Mercy Connect social media pages i.e. Facebook and Instagram.

If you have any concerns or questions, please contact us on 02 60433 500 or enquiries@mercyconnect.org.au.

Together we grow.

Trent Dean                                                               
Chief Executive Officer