From Saturday 31 July 2021, South East Queensland entered its strictest lockdown yet, and has been extended as of today 2 August until Sunday 8 August, 4pm. SCA (Qld) recommends members follow the advice as per the Queensland Health website. SCA (Qld) has also outlined best practice for general meetings during this lockdown for South East Queensland below.
Therefore, body corporate committees are advised to resolve to:
- close all amenities for the period until Sunday 8 August, 2021. The Committee is empowered to shut down recreational facilities in accordance with Section 18 of the COVID-19 Emergency Response Community Titles Schemes and Other Matters Response Regulations (in place until 30 September 2021).
- Queensland Health has outlined that body corporate pools can remain open, as long as they are only accessible by permanent residents and not the general public/visitors.
- put up signage to encourage positive and safe behaviour on common property, including that masks are to be worn outside of private residential spaces (COVID-19 poster templates) and that residents cannot gather on common property. However, a body corporate does not have the authority to enforce this under its legislative powers without making a by-law requiring masks to be worn, but the signage will help raise awareness of the Directive.
Strata Community Association (Qld) has created template signage for committees to publish on common property.
You can access and download SCA (QLD) template signage here.
Anyone in the affected LGAs will be required to stay at home except for essential reasons. You can only leave your residence (which includes temporary accommodation such as a holiday rental) for limited permitted purposes such as:
- Obtaining essential goods or services, including healthcare
- Exercising in your local area – it can only be within 10km of your home, and within 10km of your personal trainer’s home if you are exercising with a personal trainer
- Attending essential work or school and childcare for the children of essential workers or vulnerable children
- Assisting a vulnerable person or family member
- Obtaining a COVID-19 test or vaccination
You should stay within 10km of your home whenever possible but you can go further to achieve a permitted purpose. Exercise must only be performed within 10km of your home. You can exercise away from your home with your household group and/or one other person not from your household.
You are not permitted to have any visitors to your residence (excluding volunteers and workers).
You must carry a face mask with you at all times. You must wear a face mask at all times when you are outside your home, unless:
- you are alone in your car or with the members of your household
- you are eating or drinking
- you are participating in strenuous exercise
- it is unsafe.
Masks must also be worn in any indoor workplace even where social distancing is possible.
General meetings during the July/August 2021 lockdown
Since South East Queensland is in lockdown until 4pm, Sunday 8 August 2021, it is not permitted for those who reside in the affected local government areas to attend general meetings in person.
General meetings that will be held while the lockdown is in place can and should proceed in accordance with the existing powers to modify meeting procedures available under the Justice Legislation (COVID-19 Emergency Response—Community Titles Schemes and Other Matters) Regulation 2020 (the COVID Regulation).
Committees are required by the COVID Regulation to modify the way the meeting is held and give notice of those modifications to all lot owners as soon as practicable before the meeting is held.
The COVID Regulation also suspends requirements and entitlements about the general meeting while the lockdown is in place. An example of a requirement that the meeting would ordinarily have to be held at a place within 15 kilometres of the scheme land, and an example of an entitlement is that lot owners can attend the meeting in person and cast a vote from the floor. The committee can and should suspend such requirements and entitlements as they will reasonably believe that a public health direction would be contravened in the current circumstances if in person meetings were to take place.
During the lockdown, lot owners will not be able to attend the meeting in person, and there will be no point in holding the meeting at a particular place because no one can attend. It is recommended that committees urgently decide to hold general meetings on the papers or electronically while the lockdown is in place.
To achieve this, a committee resolution needs to be passed and noticed of the modifications must be given. An example of a committee motion to facilitate this would be:
“The Committee resolves that the general meeting scheduled for [insert date] will no longer be held at [insert the place] but will be held on the papers and electronically by an audio or audio visual link facility the body corporate manager gives notice to lot owners of.”
The committee can also modify the way voters cast a vote at the general meeting to facilitate participation in the general meeting. This is important because some voters may have intended to attend the meeting in person to cast a vote. It will be important to remind voters of the way they can quickly send voting papers to the secretary and even modify those ways to take into account the difficulties that arise from lockdown. For example, the committee could pass a further motion in these terms:
“The Committee resolves that for the general meeting schedule for [insert date], votes can be cast by any voter attending the meeting by the video or audio visual link.”
It is not known whether the lockdown will be extended. Even if the lockdown ends at 4pm, Sunday 8 August 2021, sections 7 and 8 of the COVID Regulation allow a committee to make arrangements so lot owners/voters can attend a meeting remotely or vote electronically. So even if these arrangements were not already made, it is recommended that committees put them in place now.
Sections 7 and 8 apply to any general meeting held up until the end of September 2021. It is not necessary for there to be a lockdown for these powers to be used and should be used by members when required.
Strata Community Association (Qld)’s suggested wording for a committee motion for a general meeting to be held over the next month or two is:
“The Committee resolves that for the general meeting schedule for [insert date]:
- a voter may attend the meeting by a video or audio visual link the body corporate manager gives lot owners notice of;
- votes can be cast by any voter attending the meeting by the video or audio visual link;
- the body corporate manager is authorised to arrange an electronic voting system for all open motions, motions to be decided by secret ballot and on any ballot conducted to choose a member of the committee; and
- any and all notices required to be given or received by the Secretary in relation to the general meeting may be given electronically, including without limitation a notice of modified meeting procedures required to be given under Section 10 of the Justice Legislation (COVID-19 Emergency Response—Community Titles Schemes and Other Matters) Regulation 2020
Strata Community Association (Qld) thanks Jason Carlson (Grace Lawyers), and James Nickless (Chambers Russell Lawyers) for their assistance in preparing this member alert.
While Stratacare will endeavour to provide the most-up-to-date information and advice that is available, please note that your best source of information on Covid-19 is always the Government and relevant Health Authorities.