Information on COVID-19 for communal leaders
This page provides information on COVID-19 for Victorian Jewish communal leaders. The situation is evolving so this page will be updated regularly to ensure the information provided is current.
This page was last updated 31 March 2020 at 1.00pm.
For Rabbinical Guidance, click here.
For translated COVID-19 FactSheets for over 65’s, click here.
For downloadable resources, click here.
To read past editions of the Victorian Jewish Community Taskforce Bulletin, click here.
The Victorian Government has declared a State of Emergency from midday (12pm) Monday 16 March 2020. Read the Victorian Premier’s statement here.
FAQ on COVID-19
This announcement of a State of Emergency gives Government the ability to prohibit non-essential mass-gatherings of more than 100 people indoors and 500 or more people outdoors, enforce quarantine and self-isolation directions and apply penalties for those who attempt to circumnavigate or break these rules. Read the full statement from the Premier here.
Much like the State of Emergency declared in Victoria, the Federal announcement of a 'human biosecurity emergency' gives the Government the ability to prohibit non-essential mass-gatherings of more than 100 people indoors and 500 or more people outdoors, enforce quarantine and self-isolation directions and apply penalties for those who attempt to circumnavigate or break these rules. Read the Prime Minister's Statement here.
On 30 March 2020 the Victoria Premier (following on from an announcement by the Prime Minister) introduced strict new social-distancing measures restricting both the number of people who can congregate at any given time AND how much space must remain between them. Victoria is currently in STAGE 3 RESTRICTIONS. This means there are only four reasons to leave your home: food and supplies, medical care, exercise, and work or education. Gatherings (excluding your immediate household, funerals, weddings and for work and education) are limited to 2 people. No matter what the circumstances you must stay at least 2 metres away from others at all times. Victorians can face on-the-spot fines of more than $1,600 if they breached coronavirus restrictions that limit gatherings to just two people. Victorians could also face fine for leaving their house for 'non-essential' reasons. Essential reasons are to get food or essential supplies, medical care, to exercise (adhering to social-distancing regulations) or work or education.
Jewish Care Victoria has launched a COVID-19 Helpline to assist and support those in the Victorian Jewish community impacted by the coronavirus. The number is 03 8517 5555 and is operational Monday to Friday between 8:30am - 6:30pm. Alternatively visit Jewish Care online here.
Effective from midnight AEDST 28 March 2020, if you’re arriving back in Australia you’ll be subject to the Australian Government’s mandatory quarantine period of 14 days at your first Australian destination. You’ll be provided with suitable accommodation to stay in during this period. You’ll not be permitted to travel domestically (including to your home) or continue on any domestic connections, until the 14 day mandatory quarantine period has been completed. For further information visit the Government SmartTraveller website.
Organisations exempt from the ban includes: essential activities such as public transportation facilities, medical and health care facilities, pharmacies, emergency service facilities, correctional facilities, youth justice centres or other places of custody, courts or tribunals, Parliaments, food markets, supermarkets and grocery stores, shopping centres, office buildings, factories, construction sites, and mining sites, where it is necessary for their normal operation (although other social distancing and hygiene practices may be required in these settings).
A 'DO NOT TRAVEL' Ban under the Biosecurity Act 2015 is now in place prohibiting Australian's from travelling overseas. Exemptions will be managed by the Australian Border Force. From 9pm AEDST Friday 20 March 2020 only Australian Citizens and Permanent Residents and their families will be allowed to enter Australia. For all other people the Australian border is closed. Australian citizens, permanent residents and their families that wish to return to Australia should make arrangements using commercial means as soon as possible. Flight options into Australia are rapidly decreasing as airlines reduce flights significantly or cease them all together. Level 4 Travel restrictions are now in place for all Australian citizens - Do Not Travel Internationally. Government has raised the advice for all overseas travel to the highest level. Their advice to all Australians - regardless of your destination, age or health - is do not travel overseas at this time. The decision reflects the gravity of the international situation arising from the COVID-19 outbreak, the risks to health and the high likelihood of major travel disruptions. Australians who are overseas and wish to return to Australia, should do so as soon as possible by commercial means. Commercial options may quickly become limited. Anyone arriving in Australia from overseas, including Australians citizens and permanent residents, will be required to self-isolate for 14 days from the date of arrival. Government has issued this advice for several reasons: There may be a higher risk of contracting COVID-19 overseas. Health care systems in some countries may come under strain and may not be as well-equipped as Australia’s or have the capacity to support foreigners. Overseas travel has become complex and unpredictable. Many countries are introducing entry or movement restrictions. These are changing often and quickly, and your travel plans could be disrupted. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade will do what it can to provide consular advice and assistance, but DFAT’s capacity to do so may be limited by local restrictions on movement, and the scale of the challenges posed by COVID-19. These challenges vary and the situation is changing rapidly. Australians who cannot, or do not want to, return home should follow the advice of local authorities and minimise their risk of COVID-19 exposure by self-isolating.
Many States and Territories in Australia have closed their borders to non-State residents. This means that people cannot freely move between States and Territories at this time. Emergency services officers and accredited essential employees (by prior arrangement) are exempt from these conditions.
A close contact is someone who has been face to face for at least 15 minutes with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, or been in the same closed space for at least 2 hours, when that person was potentially infectious. Being a close contact means there is a significant risk of becoming infected with novel coronavirus. Further information can be found on the Victorian DHHS website here.
COVID-19 is transmitted person-to-person in droplet format - for example through coughs and sneezes. If one of your staff is ill, regardless of if they believe they have or have not got COVID-19 they should not be at work or at your venue. Organisations should not allow people to be on their premises when sick. Promote the importance of staying home when unwell, or going home immediately if unwell by: a. Educating staff what symptoms they should look out for. b. Placing door signs at entrances asking people to “check their symptoms” and requesting that they go home if they are symptomatic. c. Re-enforcing this message in all communications. d. Promoting a culture where staff feel encouraged to adhere to these guidelines, by ensuring it is easy to work from home, acknowledging that you will be understanding if they call in sick (even on short or without notice), and communicating with your staff about sick leave policies, pay, and work from home arrangements. Printable resources are available here: Wash your hands regularly poster and Cover your cough and sneeze poster
The Government has put restrictions into effect regarding which businesses and organisations must close and those who are permitted to remain open at this time. For more information read the Prime Minister's Statement here. Further advice on State restrictions is expected in the near future.
COVID-19 is believed to be spread through droplets. When infectious people sneeze, cough or wipe their nose, surfaces can become contaminated for varying lengths of time. Cleaning surfaces can reduce the likelihood of someone contaminating their own hands with the virus, where they then might spread it to themselves through touching their mouth or eyes. Organisations should re-examine the frequency of their cleaning schedule, and ensure cleaning staff are adhering to the following guidelines. Read the cleaning guidelines here.
The Victorian Government has directed that all Government schools close as of Tuesday 24 March 2020, bringing forward the start of the school holidays. All Victorian Jewish Day Schools have already advised their parents and families that they have closed. Please reach out to your school directly for information on how classes will resume after the school holidays.
No. The Government has declared that all places of worship must close.
The Government has put in place strict rules on the numbers of people able to gather and under what circumstances. "There is no social occasion or celebration worth more than a human life" - Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said on 25 March 2020. Simchas should not be scheduled or conducted at this time.
The Rabbinical Council of Victoria has advised (17 March 2020) that Brit Milah should continue as normal, but the celebration should comply with the health and safety directions that have been announced by the Government.
The Melbourne Chevra Kadisha have provided advice for the community on their website. Read it here.
Please only call Chevra Hatzolah Melbourne for medical emergencies. If you suspect you or a family member has coronavirus you should call (not visit) your GP or ring the national Coronavirus Health Information Hotline on 1800 020 080. For more information about the coronavirus visit this website. Please note: There are situations where Chevra Hatzolah Melbourne Responders may rendez-vous outside before entering a scene. Please wait to be approached.
Led by the Community Security Group and Jewish Community Crisis Management, together with representatives from the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, the Rabbinical Council of Victoria, Chevra Hatzolah Melbourne, Progressive Judaism Victoria and the Council of Orthodox Synagogues Victoria; the Taskforce is comprised of Rabbincal leaders, elected community representatives, those with public health pandemic expertise and crisis and emergency management experts.
The Victorian Jewish Community COVID-19 Taskforce has been set up to support communal leadership. This service is not available for individuals. To contact the community COVID-19 taskforce please complete the contact form at the bottom of this page.