As Covid-19 has become increasingly widespread in our community, it is inevitable that many people will be self-isolating in apartment buildings. It is important for Bodies Corporate and residents to take steps to reduce the risk of transmission within their building to protect all residents.

The Body Corporate can take steps to reduce the likelihood of transmission of the virus by following public health measures. In turn residents who are isolating also have a responsibility to take steps to protect others in the building.

What can a Body Corporate do to protect residents?

The Ministry of Health has suggested a number of measures that Bodies Corporate can take to help those isolating in apartment buildings, and reduce the spread of the virus, as follows:

  1. Appointing a Covid-19 Liaison (Conduit). It is recommended that Bodies Corporate appoint a Covid-19 contact person for the building. This may be a committee member for example, but does not have to be. The conduit would work with the isolating person on how best to support them during their isolation. However, this would only occur if the case chose to disclose their Covid-19 health status with the Body Corporate, which as noted below, is not compulsory.
  2. Bodies Corporate may establish rules for their building to protect the case, residents and contractors following the Covid-19 Protection Framework and public health advice. These rules would need to be approved by owners (majority) in the same way as any other rules of the complex.
  3. Privacy considerations. The Body Corporate must be careful not to name the case or household contact (resident, contractor, or staff member) or their unit number without their consent. This is confidential information and should not be disclosed to others unless agreed to by the case or household contact.
  4. If a case chose to be identified, the Body Corporate may need to provide the case with assistance to help them isolate safely and effectively.
  5. The Body Corporate may choose to implement various physical controls and hygiene measures as follows:
  • Using a one-way door system whereby people entering the building use a different entry/exit to those exiting the building.
  • Removing seating in common areas to allow people to maintain appropriate social distancing or to discourage people from congregating in common areas.
  • Placing hygiene stations with sanitiser near entrances, lifts and other common spaces.
  • Placing floor markings by lifts to encourage people to social distance while lining up for a lift.
  • Put up signs asking people to only take a lift with members of their household or only allow a certain number of people per lift.
  • Having systems in place which allow for people to drop off supplies in a contactless manner (many buildings have intercom systems that can do this).
  • Making sure that emergency services can easily access the building if they need to get to an isolating resident.
  • Having capacity limits in gardens, gyms and other facilities within the building, or a booking system in place that allows people to choose a timing they want to use the area. Where this isn’t possible, closure of the facility may be an option.
  • Mandating masks or vaccine certificates in common areas, especially if enclosed or small.
  • Limit use of balconies if not more than 1 metre from others.
  • If rubbish collection is required by an isolating resident, allow rubbish to be left outside the door and the person who picks it up and delivers it to the main rubbish bin or chute should wear gloves.
  • Regularly cleaning touch surfaces.
  • Consider having doors/windows open in shared areas (subject to any fire regulations)

Contractors: Health & Safety considerations

It is also important to remember that in the case of contractors coming into the building, or a particular unit, that the Body Corporate is responsible for having an adequate Health & Safety plan for those contractors, and ensure the contractors also have an adequate Health & Safety plan.

This is because the Body Corporate is a Person Conducting a Business or Undertaking (PCBU) under Health & Safety legislation. This is especially important while an infected person is isolating, as extra measures will need to be incorporated into the plan to protect the contractor and the resident from Covid-19.

It pays for a Body Corporate to take advice about its responsibilities, to ensure it protects all residents and visitors to the building.