The COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus is a new strain of Coronavirus affecting humans. The outbreak in Australia is currently being managed as a health emergency and the Prime Minister has activated the Emergency Response Plan for Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). To find out more about how it is being managed, click here.
It is important we all follow the advice from Queensland Health which is the lead agency dealing with COVID-19 in Queensland. To find out more information, visit the Queensland Health website.
To find out what restrictions have been imposed by the Australian Government to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, visit the Australian Government website.
The Australian Government has provided a range of information and services to help you if you're affected by Coronavirus (COVID-19) or looking for more details.
This includes information on payments for:
- Indigenous Australians
- Job Seekers
- Older Australians
- People with disability
- Rural and remote
- Students and trainees
- People who don't currently receive a payment but may be affected by COVID-19
To find out how the Australian Government may be able to assist you, please visit the Services Australia website.
These are tough times for our community, our industry and our region. You are not alone and we will get through this together.
The following services provide confidential, non-judgmental support and we encourage you to share these with your friends and family.
In an emergency, always dial 000.
Telephone and online support services
Practical, helpful tips to help you and other look after your mental wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Department of Communities, Disability Services and Seniors
People who are in quarantine, and aren’t able to organise the delivery of essential food and medications they need, are able to phone the Community Recovery Hotline.
Phone 1800 173 349
Counselling Services for anyone at anytime.
Phone 13 11 14
Head to Health - COVID-19 Support
Provided by the Australian Department of Health, Head to Health brings together apps, online programs, online forums, and phone services, as well as a range of digital information resources.
Whitsunday Counselling and Support Service
Counselling and support
Phone 4946 2999
Whitsunday Neighbourhood Centre
Family Support, information, referral and counselling
Phone 4946 7850
Free 24/7 telephone and online counselling for anyone in northern Queensland aged 15 years and over.
Phone 1300 059 625
Whitsunday Suicide Prevention Network
Community support, information and service finder.
Phone 4945 2858
Information and referral for depression and anxiety
Phone 1300 224 636
1300 MH CALL
A confidential mental health telephone triage service for Queenslanders that provides the first point of contact to public mental health services.
Phone 1300 642 255
A confidential phone service that provides health advice to Queenslanders. You can phone and talk to a registered nurse 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for the cost of a local call.
Phone 13 43 25 84
Mental Health Association of Queensland
Access to support, information and referral to mental health-related services in your area, 9am to 7pm Monday to Friday. They also offer free online support services with a registered psychologist or social worker, accessed via online video chat.
Phone 3620 8880
Relationships Australia is a leading provider of relationship support services for individuals, families and communities.
Support, counselling and education for parents
Phone 1300 301 300
Information, advice and referral for mental illness.
Phone 1800 187 263
Telephone and online support, information and referral service to help men with relationship and other problems.
Phone 1300 789 978
Aimed at improving the health and well-being of men
Mental health services for culturally and linguistically diverse people and communities
Phone 3848 1600
This is a free online treatment program that helps you self manage your recovery from depression. It focuses on practical things you can do to make things better and helps you to set goals.
This is an innovative, interactive web program designed to prevent depression. It consists of 5 modules, an interactive game, anxiety and depression assessments, downloadable relaxation audio, a workbook and feedback assessment.
Children's Support Services
Telephone and online counselling for young people aged 5-25.
Phone 1800 551 800
Equipping young people with the integral skills they need to thrive in life.
Financial Counselling Foundation
Other useful resources
Queensland Health offer mental health information and resources.
The Queensland State Government has issued a number of directions under the QLD Public Health Act 2005 relating to Non-Essential Business Closures and Mass Gatherings.
The relevant directions and related links below:
Help Stop the Spread
To help stop the spread of viruses like the flu or coronavirus, good hygiene is essential. You are encouraged to stay away from others if you are sick – that is the most important thing you can do. You should also practise good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene:
- wash your hands frequently with soap and water, before and after eating, and after going to the toilet
- cover your cough and sneeze, dispose of tissues, and use alcohol-based hand sanitiser
- if unwell, avoid contact with others (stay more than 1.5 metres from people)
As well as these, you can start a range of social distancing and low cost hygiene actions now. These simple, common sense actions help reduce risk to you and to others. They will help to slow the spread of disease in the community – and you can use them every day – in your home, workplace, school and while out in public.
What is social distancing and why is it important?
Social distancing includes ways to stop or slow the spread of infectious diseases. It means less contact between you and other people. Social distancing is important because COVID-19 is most likely to spread from person-to-person through:
- direct close contact with a person while they are infectious or in the 24 hours before their symptoms appeared
- close contact with a person with a confirmed infection who coughs or sneezes
- touching objects or surfaces (such as door handles or tables) contaminated from a cough or sneeze from a person with a confirmed infection, and then touching your mouth or face
So, the more space between you and others, the harder it is for the virus to spread.
Council's Environmental Health Unit has been receiving queries regarding the food business home delivery during the pandemic COVID-19. Please see the below advice for food businesses in Whitsunday Region in regards to Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19).
- Can I get sick with COVID-19 from touching food, the food packaging, or good contact surfaces, if the coronavirus was present on it?
Transmission through food is unlikely and there is no evidence of this occurring with COVID-19 to date, however investigations into how the virus spreads are continuing.
Currently, there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted through food or its packaging. This is also supported by Australia and New Zealand’s Food Standards Agency, the Food Safety Authority of Ireland, the European Food Safety Authority, the U.S. Food & Drug Administration and the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment. Like other viruses, it is possible that the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on surfaces or object. For that reason, it is critical to follow the 4 key steps of food safety – clean, separate, cook, and chill.
- How long does COVID-19 last on surfaces?
According to the World Health Organization, it is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).
If you think a surface may be contaminated, clean it with a common household disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.
- What should a food business do to protect against coronavirus?
All food business are required to follow the requirements of 3.2.2 and 3.2.3 of the Food Safety Standards. Food businesses can continue to practice good food handling hygiene. A food handler should already wash their hands:
- before starting work
- before handling cooked or ready-to-eat food
- after handling or preparing raw food
- after handling waste
- after cleaning duties
- after using the toilet
- after blowing nose, sneezing or coughing
- after eating drinking or smoking
- after handling money
Be aware of how used dishes are collected from a table. Minimising the risk of cross contamination by avoiding touching areas that have been in direct contact with the customer or food. More frequent cleaning of shared surfaces, this could include door handles (front door, fridge/freezers, toilets/bathrooms), tables and chairs (arm rests or areas used to pull out the chair) salt and pepper shakers, sugar bowls, communal cutlery containers, eftpos keypad.
- Do you require to apply for another Food Business Licence to conduct home delivery services?
If you are holding an active food business licence (only for food business licence category 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6), you are allowed to conduct home delivery. However, you are required to follow the requirements of 3.2.2 and 3.2.3 of the Food Safety Standards including requirements such as packaging used for takeaway, temperature control during delivery. If you require further information please contact the Council Environmental Health Unit on 07 4945 0242.
- How do you control the temperature of food?
To reduce food safety risk, perishable and ready-to-eat food should be kept cool (below 5°C) or hot (above 60°C) during transport. If your business is involved in home delivery, you should develop documented procedures.
Keep stocked food delivery storage trolleys in the coolest part of the business. Stocked trolleys should not be stored alongside windows that are exposed to the sun or near heat-generating sources, such as ovens or heaters. Even refrigerators and freezers can generate heat. If it is not possible to keep a stocked delivery storage trolley cool, food must be refrigerated before delivery. Ice blocks can also be used to keep food below 5°C.
Note that a system of taking and recording temperature during transport should be one of the businesses documented procedures.
- What is the total delivery time?
Total delivery time is from the time of purchase at the store to the time customers receive the delivery at their home. Unless the food is kept at cool (below 5°C) or hot (above 60°C) temperatures at the food business before delivery, or if ice bricks or insulation are used, the total delivery time for perishable or ready-to-eat food should not exceed 4 hours. Transportation time should be less than 30 minutes.
Keeping records of transport times and temperatures is recommended to demonstrate that potentially hazardous food has been kept safe during transport.
- What if the customer is not at home?
If customers are not at home at the time of delivery, do not leave food unattended unless arrangements have been made with the customer. The customer should be advised that the safety of food cannot be guaranteed if it has been left unattended.
- What is your responsibility as home delivery drivers?
Anyone handling, preparing and serving food should always follow safe food handling procedures, such as washing hands and surfaces often. As an added precaution, if you have suspected symptoms of respiratory illness you should avoid preparing or transport food for other people and seek medical attention.
Home delivery drivers should:
- wash hands before and after handling or delivering food
- keep 1.5 metre apart with the customer
- prevent damage to packaging or bruising of food
- implement documented procedures if unexpected delays due to vehicle breakdown, traffic congestion or traffic accidents occur
- not leave food unattended at the customer’s home unless arrangements have been made with the customer to do so
- communicate with customers about delivery times. Advise how long the delivery will take or the expected delivery time, and arrange a specific time for delivery
- advise that there should be someone at home at the time of delivery. If this is not possible, ensure the customers know that the safety of the food cannot be guaranteed if it is left unattended
Council offers free Online Food Safety Training, to assist food handlers in developing the required skills and knowledge to ensure food is handled in a safe and hygienic manner.
Generally, Food businesses should continue to practice good hygiene as required in food safety standards, including:
- cleaning and sanitising, particularly all food contact surfaces
- thorough and frequent handwashing
- taking all practicable measures to prevent food contamination by food handlers
Does my food business need to complete a COVID Safe Checklist?
Businesses that are providing dining-in for customers, such as restaurants, cafes, pubs, RSLs, clubs and hotels are required to complete and comply with the COVID Safe Checklist. COVID Safe Checklist can be found if you click here.
Does my food business need to keep a record of customer details?
Yes, contact information must be kept for dine in customers, workers and any contractors for a period of at least 28 days. The information that needs to be recorded is their name, address and mobile phone number. Ensure records are only used for the purpose of tracing COVID-19 infections and are captured and stored confidently and securely.
For more information, please contact:
- National Coronavirus Health Information Line 1800 020 080
- Food Standards Australia New Zealand
- Queensland Health
- Australian Department of Health – Novel coronavirus advice
- World Health Organisation – Novel coronavirus advice
If you require further information about food licencing, please do not hesitate to contact Council Environmental Health Unit on 07 4945 0242.
- Can I get sick with COVID-19 from touching food, the food packaging, or good contact surfaces, if the coronavirus was present on it?
Queensland Health have introduced the 'self-quarantine assistance card', so you can help those around you!
Whether it's picking up milk for a friend who is self-quarantining or buying a few extra groceries for your elderly neighbour, these cards might be a lifeline for someone in need.
Simply print out and complete the card, and then place it in the letterbox or slide it under the door of those around you. If someone requires your help they can reach out to you on the number provided and then you can leave items on the doorstep to avoid direct contact.
To download a copy of the card, please visit Queensland Health's website.
Council's Grant Finder is a one-stop-shop to find funding opportunities during a time of disaster and we encourage residents to take advantage of this portal.
Please click on the red button (Quick List) within the portal to find out what funding opportunities are currently available in relation to Coronavirus (COVID-19) and other disaster funding.
Whitsunday Regional Council endorsed the following COVID-19 Recovery package on 27 May 2020:
1. Small Business Fee Relief Package: $173,400
That the current Development Incentives Policy (DIP) which is generally used for a reduction of 50% of the applicable infrastructure charges be preserved to fund the Council Small Business Fee Relief Package. Until 30 June 2020, Council will provide a rebate on its adopted charges by setting fees and charges payable to the Whitsunday Regional Council for that period (including the pro rata portion of any annual fee):
- under the Food Act 2006 (a 50% discount on renewal applications), and when those fees have already been paid, providing an appropriate credit towards future fees; ~$72,500 (Total annual revenue for Food Renewals = $145,000)
- for footpath dining fees (a 50% discount on renewal applications), and when those fees have already been paid, providing an appropriate credit towards future fees ~ $40,900 (Total Annual revenue Dining hire fees per sqm = $81,800)
- Trade waste and backflow device licence fees (a 50% discount on renewal applications), and when those fees have already been paid, providing an appropriate credit towards future fees. ~ $60,000
2. CBD Parking Relief Package: $420,000
That all Council controlled paid parking will be free of charge until 10 August 2020. This saving locals and tourists $420,000 which will hopefully be used on local businesses.
3. Community Advocacy Position $28.6M Grant funding
Rates Relief Package
That Council advocate to the Australian Governments for a rates relief package for the payment of 6 months equivalent general rates valued at $25M to provide essential financial hardship relief to all Councils ratepayers. Total estimated National Package value $2B.
Early return to Business as Usual
That Council advocate to the DDMG and all levels of Government for the controlled early return to Business as Usual recognising that Social Distancing and other health department directives will still need to be reinforced. The sooner we can get small businesses operating the more chance we have of retaining them in the long term.
W4Q COVID-19 Funding Round
That Council advocate for a special round of COVID-19 W4Q funding: $3.6M
- Community Events
- Community Infrastructure
4. Tourism Industry Relief Package: $2.4M
RPT Flight support
That Council lobby the Government for RPT flight support to assist with the recommencement of the RPT services including a financial contribution (capped at $200,000) matching any Government contribution to support the return of air services to the region.
Tourism Kickstart Program
That Council commit to the development of a Tourism Kickstart Program. That the Council work with Tourism Whitsunday in an effort to establish competitive domestic stay campaigns. This program will involve advocating to Government for $2M in grant funding assistance and negotiations with the Tourism industry to develop packages which for example include stay and fly subsidised packages. This not only assist recovery in the tourism sector but assists in generating aircraft passenger numbers so that routes can be re-established.
5. Rates Incentive and Hardship Program
That Council introduce a rates payment incentive program in addition to its current “Rate Relief due to hardship Policy”. This program will provide for incentive discounts for payment of rates on time. For those customers, whose circumstances have been affected by COVID-19 will be afforded every opportunity to access the Councils “Rate Relief due to Hardship Policy”.