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COVID-19 Support
Support information and resources during the current Pandemic
COVID-19 Support

Support during COVID-19

Last updated 31/3/2020

For up to date information about the COVID-19 pandemic, visit the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services Website. You can also download the Australian Government Coronavirus App from the Apple App Store, or Google Play for Android devices.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below, we respond to some of the most frequently asked questions we are receiving. Remember, the most important message is: If you can stay at home, you must.

Can I take rubbish to the Tip? Where can I get more green Caddy Liners?

Waste facilities and Transfer Stations are open for essential services only.

In the last week we've had a significant increase in the number of people accessing our Waste Facilities. While staying home is a great time to do a clean out, we now need to restrict the number of people accessing our facilities to adhere to social distancing guidelines for the safety of our staff and other community members.

Our Waste Facilities will remain open for essential purposes only. This includes for people who do not receive kerbside waste collection, and businesses who require the service to operate.

Restrictions have now been put in place to limit the number of vehicles permitted to access a waste facility at any one time. Customers are asked to follow the directions of staff at all times and to wait in their vehicle, until instructed by an attendant. We ask you to be patient with these changes, as delays may occur. Aggressive behaviour won’t be tolerated.

Green caddy liners are not currently available, as they are not deemed an essential item. Instead, try lining your caddy with newspaper, or collecting your organics waste in a bucket, tub or bowl and emptying it directly into your Organics bin.

Noisy Neighbours

If you’re annoyed by a noisy neighbour, try to talk to them first. You can also report residential noise to the police, or to Council by calling us on 03 5671 2211.

Generally speaking, unreasonable or disruptive noise is not permitted before 7am or after 8pm, Monday to Friday, or on the weekend before 9am or after 8pm.

Information on what types of residential noise can be deemed unreasonable is available on the Environment Protection Authority website.

Can I still go boating and fishing? What about Surfing?

Boating and Fishing

Boat ramps have not been formally closed off. However, Boating is not an essential activity and is therefore not allowed under the Stage Three restrictions. Maratime Safety and Better Boating Victoria are asking all Victorians to stop all forms of recreational boating to help stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The best message is to remember that if you can stay at home, you must. The Premier has described exercise as ‘a walk round the block or a bike ride to stretch your legs and get some fresh air’. This does not include recreational boating or fishing.

Please note that Marine Search and Rescue services do not have the same capability to perform rescues on the water as they normally would. Anyone choosing to head out on the water is putting themselves – and others – at increased risk.

Our advice is to stay home, take the time to inspect your lifejackets and keep on top of boat maintenance, and prepare for when we have the all clear to head back out.

More information is available on Maritime Safety Victoria website.

Surfing
Surfing is included as exercise. If you are close by to a surf beach, you can go for a surf and then head straight home. Travelling far to surf is restricted.

Also, you would still need to maintain your social distancing in the water. If it is a really crowded surf spot, that would be a gathering (even if everyone had traveled there individually) and would therefore not be allowed.

The best message is to remember that if you can stay at home, you must.

If you need to go for a surf for your physical and mental health, then we would encourage you to go by yourself and find somewhere that is not busy.

Can we stop visitors from coming to Bass Coast?

There is no way of enforcing that visitors leave our region, and visitors who have been in Bass Coast prior to the Stage Three restrictions introduced on 30 March, have not breached any of the government's guidelines.

The Stage Three restrictions restrict people from leaving their homes for travel or holidays, and these restrictions are enforceable. Victoria Police are the responsible authority for enforcing these rules.

We are advocating to the State Government asking that they make a statement urging people to stay at their primary place of residence. Will continue to support Bass Coast Health and their messages urging people to stay at their primary home and not holiday home in Bass Coast.

People are encouraged to contact the Victoria Police Assistance Line 131 444 to report any breaches. If people breach the Victorian Government's directions, they can face on-the-spot fines of $1,652 for individuals and $9,913 for businesses.

It says the beach is closed? Can I still access the beach?

On Saturday 28 March, all Bass Coast Shire Council Beaches were closed. Signage was put in place throughout the day on Saturday, a media release was issued and a Facebook message was posted to inform the community of the closures.

These closures were consistent with State Government messaging at the time. You can still access the beach to exercise, see below for more information.

The Stage 3 restrictions, which came into effect at midnight, 30 March, reinforce the message that people can not leave there homes unless:

- Shopping for essentials such as food or medication

- Health care or compassionate care if you are caring for another

- Work or education if this can not be done at home

- Exercise. This is limited to your household or groups of no more than two people, in which case you must practice social distancing.

These new guidelines will be enforced by Victoria Police. Non compliance can incur fines of up to $1,652 for individuals and $9,913 for businesses.

Exercise, including a walk/run to or along the beach by yourself, as a household or with one other complies. As would a surf or swim, by yourself or with one other. Social distancing must be maintained at all times. This means you can still access the beaches to exercise.

Can you and will you close the bridge to Phillip Island?

Local Governments don't have the authority to close any State road or highway, this includes Phillip Island Road over the San Remo Bridge. These roads are the responsibility of Regional Roads Victoria (through VicRoads).

What can and can't I do?

As of midnight 30 March, everyone is required to stay at home. You will only be able to leave your house for four things:

- Shopping for essentials such as food or medication

- Health care or compassionate care if you are caring for another

- Work or education if this can not be done at home

- Exercise. This is limited to exercising with your household, by yourself or with one other person, in which case you must practice social distancing.

These new guidelines will be enforced by Victoria Police. Non compliance can incur fines of up to $1,652 for individuals and $9,913 for businesses.

A detailed list of what these activities include is available on Department of Health and Human Services website.

Who is enforcing these rules?

Victoria Police are responsible for enforcing the guidelines, including Stage 3 which will be introduced at midnight tonight, 30 March. Non compliance can incur fines of up to $1,652 for individuals and $9,913 for businesses. Offences can be reported via the Victoria Police Assistance Line 131 444.

Can you send non-locals home or enforce ID checks

Council strongly support the message of Bass Coast Health who are urging people to stay at their primary place of residence and be considerate of regional communities, who’s health care and infrastructure will be stretched during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Victorian Government’s Stage 3 restrictions state that if you can stay at home, you must stay at home.

Is there extra cleaning of public amenities?

On 1 April, we closed some of the lower use facilities around the Shire. Usage of all Council facilities has been dropping due to the increasing restrictions in place. These closures follow on from playground and skate parks will include all public bbq’s and some Public Toilets.

The extra resources this will create, enables our cleaning teams to focus on the cleaning of high touch street furniture across the Shire, and the remaining open public amenities.

Community Support for Bass Coast during COVID-19

A Bass Coast COVID-19 Response and Recovery Group has been established to help guide, support and advocate for Bass Coast through the COVID-19 pandemic. To contact this group, call Council on 0356 712211 or email communitysupport@basscoast.vic.gov.au

Looking for work or welfare?

There is a Support Package for Victorian Workers impacted by COVID-19 and there are welfare packages in place for those who are eligible. For more information on welfare eligibility and to access any of these services, visit Services Australia.

Need essential supplies but can't leave the house?

Relief packages are available to those who can not leave their home due to COVID-19 and are unable to arrange family or other support. To access a relief package, call the Victorian Hotline on 1800 675 398. For more information, read the media release here.

Supermarkets such as Woolworthsand Coles (Coles is still in the process of being established) have established Priority Assistance Services, to arrange home delivery for those most vulnerable including seniors, people with a disability, or those who can not leave their home. Some local independent supermarkets are also offering this service. Call your local independent supermarkets, grocers or convenience stores to find out what services they are offering.

Paying your rates

If you are unable to pay your Council rates and charges by the due date, you can apply to have a suitable payment arrangement put in place. There are also pension concession rebates available for eligible rate payers. Visit our Rates page or contact our rates team on 03 5671 2211 or 1800 BCOAST (226 278) for more information.

Paying your rent

We encourage people to speak with directly their landlords or real estate agents about the possibility of reduced rent. If you receive more than the base rate of Family Tax Benefit, or already receive welfare payments from the Australian Government, you may be eligible for Rent Assistance.

on the 30 March, the National Cabinet agreed to a moratorium on evictions for the next six months for residential and commercial tenants who are experiencing financial distress due to the impact of coronavirus. This will apply across all states and territories.

Paying your mortgage

Many banks are developing and offering Coronvirus Assistance packages, including a six month freeze on mortgage repayments. We encourage you to get in touch with your bank to discuss what support is available to you.

Easy English Resources

Enliven have developed a series of Easy English Resources which can be downloaded. They include visual infographics and information on COVID-19 translated into Chin Hakha, Chin Falam, Karen and Zomi.

Can I get my medicine delivered?

Yes, if you meet the following criteria you can organise to have your medicine delivered. Call your local pharmacy to discuss delivery.

  • people isolating themselves at home on the advice of a medical practitioner, in accordance with home isolation guidance issued by the Australian Health Protection Principle Committee for confirmed COVID19 cases,
  • people who meet the current national triage protocol criteria for suspected COVID-19 infection after consultation with either the national COVID-19 hotline, state COVID-19 hotlines, a registered medical or nursing practitioner, or COVID-19 trained health clinic triage staff
  • people aged over 70
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people aged over 50
  • people with chronic health conditions or who are immunocompromised
  • parents with new babies and people who are pregnant

For more information, visit the Australian Department of Health website.

Bass Coast Business Support during COVID-19

To find out what funding programs and packages are available for your business, call the Business Victoria coronavirus hotline on 13 22 15, or visit Coronavirus Business Support. The Australian Federal Government also have a great web page explaining what Business Support is available.

The Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and the Victorian Tourism Industry Council (VTIC) are currently providing the opportunity to join free of charge. These industry organisations provide great leadership and advocacy for business.
Join VTIC or Join the Victorian Chamber.

Financial Business support available now

Victorian Business Support Fund

$10,000 grant towards operational costs and to help keep people in work.

To be eligible, businesses must already employ staff, have payroll of less than $650,000 and a turnover of more than $75,000. Full details on eligibility and how to apply are set out on the Business Support Fund webpage business.vic.gov.au/businesssupportfund

Federal JobKeeper Wage Subsidy

$1,500 a fortnight directly to employers to assist them in retaining staff. The scheme will support employees who were on the books dating back to 1 March 2020, with the first payments effective from 1 May 2020. Application details are to be confirmed.

The payment of $1,500 is per eligible employee, and will be made by the ATO for a maximum period of 6 months. This is available to businesses that have:

  • A turnover of less than $1 billion and their turnover will be reduced by more than 30 per cent relative to a comparable period a year ago; or
  • A turnover of over $1 billion and their turnover will be reduced by more than 50 per cent relative to a comparable period a year ago.
  • Not-for-profit entities and self-employed individuals that meet the turnover criteria are eligible to apply.
Assisting staff and employees

There is a Support Package for Victorian Workers impacted by COVID-19 and there are welfare packages in place for those who are eligible. For more information on welfare eligibility visit the Australian Department of Social Services Website – to access any of these services, visit Services Australia.

Support for local Businesses

To find out what local support is available through Council, call the Business Support Team on 035671 2211, or email business.support@basscoast.vic.gov.au

Council is currently preparing COVID-19 Business Support relief programs and packages. Information will be promoted through this webpage and the Business in Bass Coast Facebook Page as soon as details are finalised.

We are keen to hear from local business. Please email or call us and let us know how this period has affected your business and how we might be able to assist you. business.support@basscoast.vic.gov.au or 03 5671 2211.

State and Federal Government Support for Small Businesses

The Australian Commonwealth Government

JobKeeper Payments - Boosting cash flow for employers: providing up to $100,000 to eligible small and medium-sized businesses, and not for-profits (NFPs) that employ people, with a minimum payment of $20,000. This will benefit around 690,000 businesses employing around 7.8 million people, and around 30,000 NFPs (including charities).

Temporary relief for financially distressed businesses: The Government is temporarily increasing the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company. The ATO will tailor solutions for owners or directors of business that are currently struggling due to the Coronavirus

Financial assistance – flow of credit - SME Guarantee Scheme: SMEs with a turnover of up to $50 million will be eligible to receive a guarantee of 50% to SME lenders to support new short-term unsecured loans to SMEs. The Scheme will guarantee up to $40 billion of new lending.

  • Maximum total size of loans of $250,000 per borrower.
  • The loans will be up to 3 years, with an initial 6-month repayment holiday.
  • The loans will be in the form of unsecured finance, meaning that borrowers will have to provide an asset as security for the loan.

Increasing the instant asset write-off: The instant asset write-off threshold has been increased from $30,000 to $150,000 and expanding access to include businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million) until 30 June 2020. This measure will support over 3.5 million businesses (over 99 per cent of businesses) employing more than 9.7 million employees.

Backing Business Investment (BBI): The Government is introducing a time limited 15 month investment incentive (through to 30 June 2021) to support business investment and economic growth over the short term, by accelerating depreciation deductions. Businesses with a turnover of less than $500 million will be able to deduct 50 per cent of the cost of an eligible asset on installation, with existing depreciation rules applying to the balance of the asset’s cost.

Supporting apprentices and trainees

Supporting apprentices and trainees: Eligible employers can apply for a wage subsidy of 50 per cent of the apprentice’s or trainee’s wage for 9 months from 1 January 2020 to 30 September 2020. Where a small business is not able to retain an apprentice, the subsidy will be available to a new employer that employs that apprentice. Employers will be reimbursed up to a maximum of $21,000 per eligible apprentice or trainee ($7,000 per quarter). This measure will support up to 70,000 small businesses, employing around 117,000 apprentices.

Assistance for affected regions, communities and industries: $1 billion to support regions most significantly affected by the Coronavirus outbreak. These funds will be available to assist during the outbreak and the recovery. In addition, the Government is assisting our airline industry by providing relief from a number of taxes and Government charges estimated to total up to $715 million.

For more detail please go to: https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus

Coronavirus Business Liaison Unit: A Coronavirus Business Liaison Unit has been established within The Treasury to engage with business on a regular basis and provide updates to government on crucial issues. https://treasury.gov.au/policy-topics/business-and-industry/coronavirus-business-liaison-unit

The Victorian State Government

$500 million Business Support Fund: The fund will support small to medium businesses within the hardest hit sectors, including hospitality, tourism, accommodation, arts and entertainment, and retail. Businesses requiring further information should register at https://www.business.vic.gov.au/support-for-your-business/grants-and-assistance/economic-survival-and-jobs-package

$500 million Working for Victoria Fund: The fund will help workers who have lost their jobs find new opportunities – providing vital contributions to our state’s response to the pandemic and affording those Victorians security when its needed most. To receive more information please register at: https://www.vic.gov.au/workingforvictoria

Payroll Tax: Full payroll tax refunds for the 2019-20 financial year to small and medium-sized businesses with payroll of less than $3 million; and deferral of any payroll tax for the first three months of the 2020/21 financial year until 1 January 2021. Details on this package will become available over the next few days at https://www.sro.vic.gov.au/smallbusiness

Land Tax: Commercial tenants in government buildings can apply for rent relief – and 2020 land tax payments will be deferred for eligible small businesses. Details on this package will become available over the next few days at https://www.sro.vic.gov.au/smallbusiness

Payments to business: The Government will pay all outstanding supplier invoices within five business days. Further information to be provided.

Liquor Licensing: Waiver of liquor licensing fees for 2020 for affected venues and small businesses. Please refer to contact information at https://www.vcglr.vic.gov.au/news/coronavirus-covid-19-information-licensees

Other important COVID 19 information in relation to healthy workplaces is available at: https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/business-sector-coronavirus-disease-covid-19

Jobs Victoria – Workers in Transition: This support provides information, tools and resources to help both business and workers through retrenchment processes and into new opportunities. For more information see link: https://www.business.vic.gov.au/hiring-and-managing-staff/ending-employment/jobs-victoria-workers-in-transition

Adapting to COVID-19 as a Business

For support in adapting to the COVID-19 situation, call the call the Business Support Team on 03 5671 2211.

Business Resource library

We are currently preparing a online library, where you can watch short videos such as, “How to support your staff to work from home” “How to sell your products online” “How to lead and stay connected when working remotely”.

Here are some resources currently available:

- Australian Government Resources on Continuing your Business, including handling cancellations, setting yourself up for remote working, finding online business events and webinars to help with COVID-19 situation, finding grants and assistance, tax support and employer obligations, and more.

- Victorian Chamber of Commerce, COVID-19 Managing through a Crisis Webinar

- Digital Ready Tasmania have a free E-Commerce for COVID-19 talk on their Facebook Page.

Shop Local Campaign

There are many great online platforms sharing people’s businesses and encouraging customers to shop local and support local businesses. Remember to 'tag' @BusinessinBassCoast on Facebook, and tell us what you are doing to adapt.

Visiting Bass Coast during COVID-19

Council does not currently have a position on controlling visitation to Bass Coast during the COVID-19 Pandemic. We strongly encourage everyone to follow the Victorian State Government Guidelines which state that ‘If you can stay at home, you must’, and which discourage all non-essential travel.

The Victorian State Government closed all caravan parks and camping parks from midnight on Wednesday, 26 March. Exemptions are in place for permanent residents at these parks.

Service Changes

Beach Closures

On Saturday 28 March, all Bass Coast Shire Council Beaches were closed. Signage was put in place throughout the day on Saturday, a media release was issued and a Facebook post, to inform the community of the closures.

These closures were consistent with State Government messaging at the time.

The new Stage 3 restrictions, which come into effect at midnight, 30 March, reinforce these messages that people can not leave there homes unless:

  • Shopping for essentials such as food or medication
  • Health care or compassionate care if you are caring for another
  • Work or education if this can not be done at home
  • Exercise. This is limited to groups of no more than two people, in which case you must practice social distancing, or with those you live with.

These new guidelines will be enforced by Victoria Police. Non-compliance can incur fines of up to $1,652 for individuals and $9,913 for businesses.

Exercise, including a walk/run to or along the beach by yourself or with one other complies. As would a surf or swim, by yourself or with one other. Social distancing must be maintained at all times.

Customer/Visitor Services

All face-to-face Customer Services and Visitor Services have ceased. Customer Service and Visitor Services are still be available via phone, email and online channels.

The Grantville Transaction Centre will open 8.30am to 4:30pm for the Nurse Practitioner to operate (not for Council Customer Service). CentreLink self-service will still be available from this office.

If you need to make a payment and can only pay in cash, please contact Customer Service on 0356 712211 to make arrangements.

West Gippsland Libraries has confirmed that services across Bass Coast are also closed.

Council Meetings

Monthly Council meetings will continue. Council is currently investigating ways the public can view these meetings without physically attending, such as live streaming. An audio recording of the March has been posted on our website.

Events and Markets

Following State and Federal Government advice, all physical Council events are cancelled, including any events scheduled to take place in a Council building or Council reserve.

Local events that do not meet the State and Federal guidelines will also be cancelled.

Council will continue to promote any virtual events through the What's On pages, and will assist event organisers with postponing and adapting their events.

Libraries

All West Gippsland Libraries branches and Mobile Libraries have been closed until Tuesday, 14 April. This date might be extended.

Leisure Facilities

The Bass Coast Aquatic and Leisure Centre, the Phillip Island Leisure Centre and all outreaching programs the Y delivers across Bass Coast are closed from 8.00pm Friday 20 March until further notice.

Playgrounds and Skate Parks

All playgrounds and skate parks across Bass Coast are now closed. We understand the difficulties this may pose for families with young children, however it is a necessary step to protect our community from the spread of the virus. Please try and keep active and use the open spaces (such as recreation reserves or trails) available across the Shire for recreation activities.

Public toilets

We’ve made the decision to close a number of our public toilets which are currently not being used very frequently. This will allow our team to focus on more frequent cleaning of the remaining toilet blocks and also help reduce maintenance of vandalised toilet blocks. We have recently seen an increase of soap dispensers and toilet paper being stolen. Closing toilet blocks will also allow for cleaning of frequently used street furniture.

The following toilet blocks will be closed until further notice:

  • Surf Parade / Norman Rd, Inverloch
  • Cowes Heritage Centre (rear of library), Cowes
  • Excelloo – Corner of Chapel St and Thompson Ave, Cowes
  • Bunurong Environment Centre – 1 Ramsey Blvd, Invereloch
  • 88 The Esplanade (opposite Cuttriss St), Inverloch
  • McMahons Reserve – 48 Cameron St, Wonthaggi
  • Bass Valley Centre - Hade Ave, Bass
  • Cape Woolamai Surf Club – 288 Cape Woolamai Beach Rd
  • Pier Rd, Grantville
  • Alan Birt Reserve - 3 Surf Beach Rd, Cape Paterson
  • South Dudley Park - 38 Carl St, South Dudley
  • Lionel Rose toilet block Bass Hwy, Kilcunda
  • Kilcunda Cemetery - Bass Hwy, Kilcunda
  • Harold Hughes Reserve - 38 Smythe St, Corinella
  • Coronet Bay Foreshore - Cuttysark Rd, Coronet Bay
  • Newhaven Jetty - 10 Beach Cres Newhaven
  • Outside Newhaven Yacht Club - 10 Beach Cres, Newhaven
  • Rhyll Hall - 41 Reid St, Rhyll
  • Ventnor Beach - Ventnor Beach Rd, Ventnor
  • Richard Grayden Reserve - 2 Forrest Ave, Newhaven
  • Coronet Bay Hall – 39A Gellibrand Rd, Coronet Bay
  • Dalyston Rec Reserve – 20 Tulloch St, Daylston
  • Y.C.W Smiths Beach – Beachcomber Ave, Smiths Beach

The following toilets remain open for use:

  • Guide Park, Wonthaggi
  • Apex Park, Wonthaggi
  • Wonthaggi Rec. Reserve (in between rec. 1 & 2)
  • Riely St, Inverloch
  • Surf beach Carpark, Cape Paterson (1st Surf Carpark)
  • Browns Bay, Cape Paterson
  • Rotary Centenary Park, Inverloch
  • Inverloch S.L.S.C Goroke St/Surf Pde, Inverloch
  • Mahers Landing Boat Ramp
  • Kilcunda Foreshore
  • Anderson Roundabout – unisex
  • Grantville Transaction centre – unisex
  • Marine Parade, San Remo
  • Back Beach, San Remo – unisex
  • Vista Place, Cape Woolamai
  • Cottosloe beach, Cape Woolamai
  • Rhyll Boat Ramp
  • Smiths Beach Carpark, Smiths Beach
  • Finlay Ave, Cowes
  • Thompson Ave, Cowes
  • Cowes Transit Hub
  • Cowes Rec Reserve (football ground)
  • Redrocks Road, Cowes
  • Anderson Street, Cowes (Cowes Boat Ramp)
  • Information Centre Public Toilets (Watt St Wonthaggi)
  • Inverloch Boat Ramp
Waste Services and Green Caddy Liners

All kerbside waste collections are operating as normal, please continue to put your bins out on your usual collection days.

Our Waste Facilities in Cowes, Grantville, Inverloch and Wonthaggi are only open for essential purposes such as for businesses and people who don't have a kerbside collection. Payments must be by credit card only.

Green caddy liners are currently not available. Try using newspaper to line your kitchen caddy or collect scraps in a bowl or bucket and tip them straight into your kerbside bin.

We can’t currently accept any e-waste.

Hard rubbish collections will be suspended from Friday, 4 April.

Wonthaggi Union Community Arts Centre

The Centre is closed and all events have been cancelled or postponed.

We are currently working with producers to see if shows can be rescheduled and we will advise ticket holders as soon as we can if new dates can be found. We are also working through a ticket exchange process for rescheduled shows and a refund process for cancelled shows. If you are unable to attend a rescheduled show, a refund will be offered.

Ticket holders will be contacted directly by Arts Centre staff with exchange or refund details in the coming days.