Coronavirus Update

Monday 21 December 2020

Good afternoon all,

NSW COVID-19 Outbreaks

With the worsening COVID-19 situation in the Northern Sydney Local Health District (which includes the following LGAs: Hornsby, Hunter’s Hill, Ku-ring-Gai, Lane Cove, Mosman, North Sydney, Northern Beaches, Ryde and Willoughby) and Penrith LGA, important restrictions will be again applied to Mercy Connect housing, programs and services, until further notice.

The list of declared ‘hot spot’ locations (which is being progressively updated) can be found here:

The following new restrictions come into effect for Mercy Connect immediately:

  • Any staff who have from 11 December been in any of declared ‘hot spot’ locations must self-isolate and get tested immediately.
  • Staff must not attend work if any of the following criteria are met, and will only be permitted to return once they have been COVID-19 tested (and receive a negative result):
    • Having a fever (37. 5°C or higher) or any symptoms of COVID-19.
    • Are a close contact of a person with confirmed COVID-19 and are within their self-isolation period.
    • Live in a household with a person who is identified as a close contact of a person with confirmed COVID-19.
  • Mercy Connect group homes will be closed to all non-essential visitors:
    • Participants will still be encouraged to go out for exercise purposes.
    • For those who live independently in Mercy Connect Units, it is proposed that they continue daily activities where possible.
    • Where there are exceptional circumstances (for example, a dying relative), requests for visitation must be directed to the CEO / Executive Leader – Clinical Services for approval before they are permitted entry.
    • Requests for essential visitors (those performing essential caring functions) must be directed to the CEO / Executive Leader – Clinical Services for approval before they are permitted entry.
  • Family members / guardians may still visit participants in outside locations / public spaces, however, they must not have visited any of the declared ‘hot spot’ locations.
    • Any family members / guardians who have from 11 December visited a declared ‘hot spot’ location must be COVID-19 tested and receive a negative results before being allowed into a Mercy Connect facility.
  • Residents of group homes should defer plans to visit family until 23 December 2020 when further advice will be issued by Mercy Connect.
  • All staff and essential visitors must wear a surgical mask whilst in a participant’s home (either a group home or private dwelling).
  • Whilst Day Program activities have already ceased (due to planned Christmas / New Year break), we will actively monitor the situation and advise on whether programs can return, as planned, in the New Year.
  • Records must be kept of staff and visitor entry and exit into Mercy Connect facilities for contact tracing purposes i.e. using QR Code scanning process.

Victoria / NSW Border Restrictions

In a major change to arrangements which previously existed when the NSW government closed the border in July, an expanded “bubble” of council areas on both sides of the border means residents only need to show their driver’s licence at the checkpoints to cross rather than apply for a permit. Victorian residents in Alpine, Benalla, Indigo, Moira, Shepparton, Towong, Wangaratta and Wodonga council areas and NSW residents in Albury, Berrigan, Edward River, Federation, Greater Hume, Hay, Lockhart, Murray River, Murrumbidgee, Snowy Valleys and Wagga are among those who can cross over the border by showing their licence.

Please ensure trips into Victoria are planned accordingly, noting there may be delays and that participants will need to have relevant identification cards / documentation when crossing the border.

I am very aware that this will be an extremely disappointing outcome; especially during the week of Christmas. For that, I am truly sorry. Unfortunately, we cannot take any chances with COVID-19 and must follow government advice to ensure our participants and staff are kept as safe as practicable.

Thank you for complying with these important restrictions, and I do hope everyone finds some time over coming weeks to enjoy the Christmas and New Year period.

Together we grow.

Trent Dean
Chief Executive Officer