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COVID-19 Red Cross Member guidelines for the safe return to Member-run activities

The COVID-19 Red Cross Member Guidelines for the Safe Return to Member Run Activities apply to all face-to-face member run activities.

Key things to remember

  • Health and wellbeing is a shared responsibility. As individuals we have a responsibility to modify our own behaviours to ensure our own health and wellbeing, and the safety of others.  
  • You must stay home if you feel sick, for example if you are coughing, or have a fever or if you are short of breath. It is important that you seek assistance from a medical professional.
  • If you have been sent for a COVID-19 test, please inform your Mobilisation Hub immediately and stay at home until you are advised to return. Note the Hub will inform your State/Territory Director and the WHS team.
  • Member groups (branch, unit or club) need to consider carefully whether it is the right time to resume particular activities. In making this decision it is important that in addition to these guidelines you must follow local State/Territory requirements, noting this information can change regularly.
  • Individual members who are at greater risk of serious illness from COVID-19 should carefully consider whether to attend face-to-face gatherings, including those run by your member group.
  • Member groups (branch, unit or club) need to ensure the right measures are put in place to run safe activities.
  • Each member group should appoint an Activity Lead. This is usually an Office Bearer or Coordinator who will take responsibility for planning and working with others to prepare for face-to-face activities.
  • Members should work through the Guidelines and Checklists with their Mobilisation Hubs to ensure a safe return to member-run activities. 
  • Approval from your Mobilisation Hub/Director is required before you can run an activity.

If you need further guidance or support please contact your local Mobilisation Hub.

Click open the menus below to read the Guidelines. You can also download a printable version.

The COVID-19 Red Cross Member Guidelines for the Safe Return to Member Run Activities (the ‘Guidelines’) apply to all face-to-face member-run activities.

For the purposes of this document:

  • ‘Activity’ is defined as a gathering that is organised and run by Red Cross members (including a branch, unit or club) for (a) just that group (such as a branch meeting) or (b) including others (such as services, retail, community events and hall hire).
  • ‘Site’ is defined as any location used by a Red Cross members (including a branch, unit or club) where a regular activity occurs (such as a branch run store or tea rooms, a service such as MEHS or accommodation).  A ‘site’ also includes venues that branches meet at or use to host events.

The COVID-19 Member Site and Activity Readiness Checklists (the ‘Checklist’) supports the implementation of these Guidelines.

You can find out more by getting in touch with your State or Territory Mobilisation Hub.

The member group (branch, unit or club) has a responsibility to comply with these Guidelines if they decide to resume activities and services, when it is possible to do so.

A member, usually an Office Bearer or Coordinator, must be appointed ‘Activity Lead’ by the group and take responsibility for:

  • ensuring the member activity being planned is compliant with the Guidelines and
  • working with other members to prepare the site for the safe return of their members, volunteers and community members.

Before any member activity can go ahead, the Activity Lead must:

  1. Review and understand these Guidelines
  2. Complete the Checklist* and send it to your Mobilisation Hub at least one week prior to the proposed activity. 
  3. Receive approval from your Mobilisation Hub - it is important that no member activity commences until it has been approved.

* For every different type of member activity, you will need to review and comply with the Guidelines and complete a Checklist. There are different checklists covering different types of activity.

Please ensure all members, and anyone else involved in any member activity is across the Guidelines.

If you have any questions about these Guidelines, the Checklist or the role of Activity Lead, please contact your State/Territory Mobilisation Hub in the first instance.

Members and others (clients, customers and community members) who are vulnerable to serious illness from COVID-19 need consider their involvement in all activities carefully.

In most cases people who are vulnerable will be the last to return to face-to-face activities if that is what is best for them. Red Cross recommends that people who are most vulnerable should continue physical distancing.  Members who are in a vulnerable group can work with their branch, unit or club and Hub to stay connected in different ways.   

People who are, or are more likely to be at higher risk of serious illness if they get the virus are:

  • people aged 70 years and over, people aged 65 years and over with chronic medical conditions,
  • people living in aged care facilities
  • Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, and people in remote communities
  • people with weakened immune systems
  • people with diagnosed chronic medical conditions (such as high blood pressure, heart and lung conditions, chronic respiratory disease, kidney disease and diabetes)
  • pregnant women do not appear to be more at risk of developing serious COVID-19 symptoms than the rest of the general population, although pregnant women are at serious risk from other respiratory illnesses, such as the flu. All pregnant women should practise social distancing, good hand and cough or sneeze hygiene, and get their free flu vaccination.

It is important that in addition to these Guidelines you check your local State/Territory requirements, noting this information can change regularly.  

See links to this information below. 

Australian Capital Territory

New South Wales

Northern Territory

Queensland

South Australia

Tasmania

Victoria

Western Australia

How to run a member activity safely if you decide to do so

Below is a list of member run activities that may be able to recommence if necessary safety measures are in place. Included against each activity are some requirements before the activity can go ahead. 

The Activity Lead is responsible for coordinating all necessary actions prior to the member activity commencing, including completing and submitting the Checklist to your Mobilisation Hub. 

For each activity you will need to review these Guidelines and complete a Checklist. Completion, submission and sign off of the Checklist by the Mobilisation Hub is compulsory before any member activity can be undertaken. 

You need only complete the Checklist once for an activity, unless something changes, including the location (eg, change the place where you are having your member meeting). 

Please ensure you check in with your Mobilisation Hub who will provide advice and support, and obtain Hub/Director sign-off.

The following apply to ALL in person member activities irrespective and what and where they are.

  • Activity Lead has been appointed.
  • Make sure all members, and anyone else involved in any activity is across the Guidelines. Please email a copy of the Guidelines to everyone in your branch, or talk through it with members over the phone. 
  • Ensure the activity complies with your local state or territory requirements. Please check in with your Mobilisation Hub if you need support to access this information. 
  • Communicate to all Red Cross people to stay home if you feel sick, if you are coughing, have shortness of breath or a fever.
  • Do not hold activities in the one room for more than two hours. 
  • Practice verbal greetings only and avoid physical contact with others.
  • Try not to touch surfaces touched by several peoples (e.g. tables, light switches, toilet doors). If you do, try to use a paper towel/tissue, and discard it in a bin, and/or wash your hands afterwards.
  • Where it is safe for you to do so, use the stairs rather than the lifts. If you use the handrail, clean your hands after exiting the stairwell.
  • Open windows as much as possible to allow regular fresh air through the meeting space. 
  • Where possible, avoid travelling on public transport; if you do travel on public transport avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth and wash your hands as soon as possible after the trip.
  • Keep a pen with you in order to avoid having to use a shared pen.
  • Respect sneezing and coughing etiquette e.g. sneeze or cough into your elbow or a tissue, dispose of the tissue in a rubbish bin and wash your hands immediately after,
  • Wash your hands regularly with water and soap or a hand sanitizer and use paper towels if available.
  • Ensure that comprehensive cleaning takes place, and is done safely by members/ volunteers or by a professional cleaner. This includes: 
    • Ensure any areas frequented by members or others (e.g. visitors to your premises) are cleaned at least daily with detergent or disinfectant.
    • Instruct members/ volunteers to wear gloves when performing cleaning duties and wash their hands thoroughly with soap or use an alcohol‑based hand sanitiser before and after wearing gloves.
    • Clean frequently touched areas and surfaces regularly with a detergent or disinfectant solution or wipe. This includes elevator buttons, handrails, tables, counter tops, door knobs, fridge doors, sinks, sink taps, photocopiers and microwave ovens. 
  • If your branch/unit is involved in any activities that require food handling, please practice good hygiene and food handling techniques. Further information is available here.
  • Promote the benefits and encourage the downloading of the COVID SAFE app
  • If someone becomes ill with suspected COVID-19 after any member activity, inform your Mobilisation Hub and/or email the WHS team

Download the General and Physical Distancing Checklist that must be completed for all activities.

Ensure physical distancing parameters are adhered to and the number of people on site are kept to a minimum. Further information and resources are available here.

  • Arrange the space, including placing markings on the floor, to ensure physical distancing measures are adhered to. Four square metres of space per person and maintaining a physical distance of at least 1.5 metres from others
  • Tables and chairs have been moved apart to comply with physical distancing requirements.
  • The maximum number of people who can be at the activity (based on the size of the venue or site) needs to be determined. (Determine how many square metres the space is, and then divide by the allowed space per person.) A venue you are hiring should provide you with this information.  
  • If you hold an activity at a location that is run by someone else, such as a church building or community centre, please contact them prior to find out about the measurers they have in place for physical distancing.  This will help you make a decision on whether the space is suitable for your activity
  • A person (Activity Lead or someone else) needs to be nominated to be responsible for ensuring:
    • no more than the maximum allowed number of people are in the space at any time
    • everyone is occupying 4m2 of space per person, and 
    • keeping everyone the required 1.5 metres distance apart in accordance with the latest government requirements.

Download the General and Physical Distancing Checklist that must be completed for all activities.

Hold meetings via teleconference, Skype/Zoom rather than gathering in meeting rooms. This is particularly important if any of your members are at greater risk of serious illness due to COVID-19. 

Your Mobilisation Hub can provide advice on how to meet virtually. You can find information about technology and ways to connect on our website.  

If you must hold a face-to-face meeting:

All requirements from General and Physical Distancing, above, apply here. 

  • Consider having the meeting outdoors.
  • Limit the number of people physically attending the meeting to a minimum to ensure physical distancing parameters are adhered to.
  • Ensure all meetings attendees’ names are recorded in an attendance register for future tracing purposes. This attendee list needs to be kept for 1 month.  
  • Do not hold meetings in the one room for more than two hours. 
  • If you are holding a meeting at a location that is run by someone else, such as at a church building or community centre, please contact them prior to find out about the measures they have in place for physical distancing and sanitising.  This will help you make a decision on whether the space is suitable. 

Download the Member Group Meeting Checklist that must be completed.

All requirements from General and Physical Distancing, above, apply here. 

  • Ensure hand water and soap, and/or sanitiser and cleaning wipes are available.
  • Calculate and advise on maximum occupancy for the space and display this information clearly.
  • Arrange the space, including by marking it up, to ensure physical distancing measures are adhered to. 
  • Include signage to ensure physical distancing measures are adhered to
  • Consider how you can provide venue access without needing to see anyone
  • Organise for the venue to be given a comprehensive clean after each use. Consider using a professional cleaner and increasing your hire charges.

Download the Venue Hire Checklist that must be completed.

We recommend you do not organise and hold community events at this time. There is a risk that people attending your event might carry COVID-19 without realising it, and others may be exposed to COVID-19

If you do want to hold a face-to-face event, all requirements from General and Physical Distancing, above, apply here. 

Before the event

  • Check the advice from your state or territory government and ensure you follow this advice.
  • Consider having the event outdoors.
  • Set a clear time limit on the event to minimise exposure. 
  • Limit the number of people that are physically attending the event to a minimum to ensure physical distancing parameters are adhered to.
  • If you are holding a meeting at a location that is run by someone else, such as at a church building or community centre, please contact them prior to find out about the measures they have in place for physical distancing and sanitising.  This will help you make a decision on whether the space is suitable. 
  • Arrange the space, including by marking it up, to ensure physical distancing measures are adhered to. 
  • Include signage to ensure physical distancing measures are adhered to.
  • Advise participants in advance that if they have any symptoms or feel unwell, they should not attend.
  • Pre-order sufficient supplies and materials, including tissues and hand sanitizer for all participants. Place these in appropriate locations around the space. 

For further information on preventative measures in regards to public gatherings please view the current advice from the Department of Health

During the event

  • Ensure all event attendees’ names, phone and email contact details are recorded in an attendance register for future tracing purposes. This attendee list needs to be kept for one month.
  • Advise participants as they arrive (through signage) that if they have any symptoms or feel unwell, they should not attend.
  • Ask people to use the hand sanitizer as they come in. 
  • Provide information or a briefing, preferably both in writing and as a run through at the start of the event, on COVID-19 and the measures that you as the organisers are taking to make this event safe for participants.  This should include: 
    • ways to say hello without touching and maintain physical distance
    • display water and soap or hand sanitizers prominently around the venue,
    • encourage regular hand-washing or use of a hand sanitizer by all participants at the meeting or event, 
    • encourage participants to cover their face with the bend of their elbow or a tissue if they cough or sneeze, supply tissues and closed bins for disposal,
    • arrange seats so that participants are at least 1.5 metres apart wherever possible,
    • provide contact details of WHS team members that participants can call for advice or to give information,
    • make sure that same measures are applied during breaks,
    • open windows and doors whenever possible to make sure the venue is well ventilated,
    • thank all participants for their cooperation with the provisions in place.

After the event

  • Retain the names and contact details of all participants for at least one month. This will help public health authorities trace people who may have been exposed to COVID-19 if one or more participants become ill within 48 hours after the event.
  • If someone at the event becomes ill with suspected COVID-19 the Activity Lead should inform their relevant Mobilisation Hub and/or email the WHS team.

Download the Events Checklist that must be completed.

* Services includes Mobility Equipment Hire and Accommodation Services in QLD.

All requirements from General and Physical Distancing, above, apply here. 

  • Develop a roster to identify who will be onsite or participating in the activity. (The roster will enable you to stagger members and volunteers returning to the site/store, ensuring that not all members and volunteers be onsite at the same time and you are meeting social distancing measures.)
  • Ensure all areas have signs advising on social distancing measures. 
  • Ensure each shift a person assumes responsibility for making sure no more than the maximum allowed number of people are in the space at any time. This person must also ensure everyone is occupying 4m2 of space per person, and keeping everyone the required 1.5 metres distance apart in accordance with the latest government requirements.
  • Where practical, identify areas that do not provide physical distancing (a distance of 1.5 metres between people) and place signs to advise not to use that work area.
  • Develop an onsite sign in/out register (name and number) to identify members and volunteers on site each day. This will assist in the event that someone suddenly develops symptoms or returns a positive case of COVID-19. The list for each day should be kept for at least one month.
  • Ensure hand water and soap, and/or sanitiser and cleaning wipes are available for members, volunteers and customers to use for hands, surfaces, phones, printers, payment equipment, bathrooms and food consumption areas.
  • Instruct members/volunteers to clean personal property that they bring in, such as sunglasses and mobile phones with disinfectant (eg disinfectant wipes or spray).
  • Identify if split shifts, e.g. day vs afternoon, is an option and consult the team members to determine opportunities. This means spending less time on site. 
  • Mark up all areas where customer transactions/engagement takes place (such as the front of the payment and change room areas) to ensure customers keep their distance and can better maintain physical distance when queuing.
  • Do not share work or electronic equipment e.g. phones, computers, pricing guns, steamers, etc. where possible. 
  • Ensure members and volunteers maintain clean and uncluttered work areas to allow easier wiping of surfaces and equipment.
  • Select rooms where meals are to be had (large enough, easy to ventilate and clean) and put a sign on the entrance with the maximum number of people authorised in the room.

In addition to the full list above, the following applies specifically to processing donations at Member Shops

  • Wear gloves when accepting donations. If that is not possible, wash hands thoroughly after accepting, and put donations in the backrooms in a designated location for quarantine. Please label this area so it is identifiable to all team members.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose while processing the donations
  • Do not shake the clothes
  • Dispose of the bags/container that the clothes were donated in
  • Label each donation with the day/date/time and the name of person that accepted donation
  • Donations must be left untouched for 3 days/72 hours. After this period and wearing gloves, donations can be sorted and managed as normal.
  • Please speak with your Mobilisation Hub about any challenges with quarantining and processing donations. 

In addition to the full list above, the following applies specifically to Member run Tea Rooms

  • If your branch/unit is involved in any activities that require food handling, please practice good hygiene and food handling techniques. Further information is available here.

In addition to the full list above, the following applies specifically to Mobility Equipment Hire Services

  • Leave equipment untouched for 3 days/72 hours before cleaning.
  • In addition to regular cleaning measures, returned equipment needs to be cleaned thoroughly with a sanitising cleaner. Ensure gloves are worn when cleaning. 

Download the Member Run Shops, Tea Rooms and Services Checklist that must be completed.

Consider whether or not the activity is appropriate at this time, or could be held in another way. Get in touch with your Mobilisation Hub for advice

If you do need to hold the activity:

  • All requirements from General and Physical Distancing, above, apply here. 
  • Standards and protocols in the space you are working in, such as a hospital or nursing home, will apply. 

Download the General and Physical Distancing Checklist which must be completed for Community Activities.

Questions and answers

Why do we need guidelines to resume member run activities?

We are concerned for the safety of you, our members and your loved ones; the safety of your customers and clients; and the safety of your local communities.  

The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented situation. It remains unclear if people can build a protective immunity against COVID-19 and there is no vaccine. We all need to prepare for the fact we will be returning to a different environment, including maintaining our physical distance from our friends and families, and adjustments to how everyday activities are undertaken. 

Red Cross has a duty to put safety first. We are exercising caution and adopting a phased approach to the return to all Red Cross activities. Before member run activities can resume, they need to be safe.  

We have developed the Guidelines and the Checklist to support safe resumption of member run activities that meet Safe Work Australia’s nation-wide safety advice, and relevant State or Territory legislation and safety requirements. 

We will continuously review and adjust our guidelines based on organisational updates, and member feedback.  

Federal and/or State and Territory authorities allow people to gather in groups and resume most activities (cafes, restaurants, shops, etc.). Why does Red Cross not allow for member-run activities to resume before 30 June? 

For Red Cross, the safety of our people is the highest priority and we also have a duty of care to our people. We are exercising caution and adopting a phased approach to the return to all Red Cross activities. 

A phased approach to resuming Red Cross activities means we can best manage the risks and support the safety of Red Cross people and their communities. The time until 30 June will allow us to review guidelines, complete checklists and ensure we have everything in place before we resume. 

Other charities as well as some Red Cross Retail Shops have reopened their stores, why can’t we open our member-run stores before 30 June?

We are phasing the reopening our Red Cross Retail Shops with support from paid staff who manage the stores.  This is an intensive undertaking to ensure all work health and safety measures are in place and the store is compliant with relevant safety requirements. 

We have trialled reopening some of our larger shops where we have paid staff on hand to support. The success of this trial means we will be able to open some of our other larger Red Cross Shops with staff support in the coming weeks. The learning will help us to support more Retail stores and member-run stores to open when possible. 

We are and will continue to take into account local circumstances, and to monitor what is happening in our Retail stores. Learning and tools from Retail store reopening will inform reopening of member run shops. 

Why are we taking a staged and cautious approach to resuming member-run activities?

We need to remain vigilant. The pandemic is not over and a second wave of infections is a real risk.

To this end we need to ensure appropriate safety measures are in place before resuming member activities, including reopening member-run stores.  We will be considered, only making changes where we can ensure the safety and wellbeing of our people, those we support and the community. 

As restrictions are eased, we are reviewing how changes are impacting infection rates and responding accordingly.  We are conscious that many of our members are older and at risk of severe illness from COVID-19. We will continue to adapt, to review arrangements regularly and if stronger restrictions return we’ll respond using our pandemic plan and business continuity plans. 

Now that restrictions are easing, what guidelines do I follow in regards to Branch/Unit meetings after 30 June?

Guidelines and checklists are available above.

Can I use the lunchroom and communal spaces?

To reduce the risk of infection by COVID-19, the lunchroom should only be used for food preparation and where possible the number of people using the area at the same time be reduced. 

Where possible, people should be encouraged to bring food that doesn’t need to be prepared in the kitchen, and to eat at their desk or outside, taking care to physically distance from others and practice good hygiene.

Do I need to have my temperature checked, use a mask or have a screening test?

Australian Red Cross does not recommend temperature checks at the entrance of the site, because people can transmit the disease 48 hours before having symptoms, and it could give a false sense of safety for people in the workplace.

Australian Red Cross does not recommend people wear a mask. Masks must be kept for people who are sick (suspected and confirmed COVID-19) and for people who are regularly in direct contact with the public when physical distance cannot be maintained.

Australian Red Cross does not recommend the use of any test before returning to the workplace. PCR/antigen tests give information about current infection. These tests are not developed to test people without symptoms and would only give information about the day of the test. A person can be infected the next day, and the test done the day before is of no use. People who assume that they are immune to a second infection because they have received a positive test result may ignore public health advice. 

What if I am unclear about an activity or struggle to complete the COVID-19 Member Site and Activity Readiness Checklist?

Talk to your State/Territory Mobilisation Hub.