COVID-19 has required an extraordinary response from us all. The restrictions and guidance that have been issued by NSW Health have been important in supporting the safety and health of all NSW residents. Even in periods of very low community transmission of the virus, it is important that we remember the important lessons learnt during the COVID-19 response.

The information below highlights some key areas for disability providers and people with disability to think about as they go about their normal activities as the COVID-19 vaccines roll out.

Disability providers

People with disability should be supported to access the community, employment, transport and day programs in line with the current advice provided by the Chief Health Officer to residential disability care facilities and home care providers.

NSW Health also provides guidance on how to minimise the risk of transmission of COVID-19 via your COVID Safety Plan in the:

  • wellbeing of staff and customers
  • physical distancing
  • hygiene and cleaning
  • record keeping

Respite care

The regularly updated guidance provided to residential disability care facilities by the Chief Health Officer in NSW also applies to respite settings.

Respite providers should implement infection control protocols in their facilities and monitor updated advice from NSW Health.

Supported employment

Employment (including Australian Disability Enterprises or 'ADEs')

All employers in NSW should have COVID-19 Safety Plans for the operation of their business to ensure the safety of staff, customers and the general public. Under the Disability Inclusion Act, these Plans must incorporate appropriate arrangements to address the needs of people with disability.

We encourage supported employment organisations to register as a COVID Safe business and have a comprehensive COVID-19 Safety Plan in place. Registration is quick and easy. It shows customers that you're committed to their safety.

Registered businesses are provided with information and tools to help them provide a COVID Safe environment including:

  • a free Service NSW QR code to record visitors and staff details easily
  • digital COVID Safe badges for use on Google and social channels
  • a print ready COVID Safe badge file for use as a poster or sticker on the shop front/high traffic areas
  • posters on safety and hygiene
  • reports on how customers and visitors rate the business.

Posters and signage to support a COVID Safe workplace can be accessed via the COVID Safe toolkit.

Residential disability care providers and disability home care providers should make sure that residents who are attending employment external to their home understand what is required to maintain COVID safety in different settings and know how to maintain infection controls at their job and while in transit.

Providers are encouraged to discuss these issues with their residents/clients/employees, make contact with other providers, and ensure that the appropriate protections are in place.

To complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan, visit NSW Government - General COVID-19 Safety Plan.

Community activities – Day programs

As of 8 October, updated advice on Disability Day Programs is available on the Disability service providers page.

It is important that:

  • people with disability living in supported accommodation or in their own homes, and
  • their carers or support workers or group home staff

should not be prevented from attending community activities such as day programs unless they are specifically advised not to under the disability provider guidance that is current at the time.

Providers should apply appropriate risk management principles in accordance with the published general public health advice for limiting and containing the potential for spread of the virus.

For the latest advice regarding mask wearing please check the NSW Government website.

Residents and providers need to be confident that anyone attending a day program outside a group home facility is supported to maintain infection controls and appropriate Public Health Order obligations in both settings and while in transit.

Day program providers should have appropriate infection control protocols and keep a record of the individuals who participate in the day program (participants, staff and visitors), in line with their COVID-19 Safety Plan.

Transport and travel

Public transport

See the latest advice on face masks.

NSW Health recommends that when travelling on public transport or multi-person transport, people with disability who live or work in residential disability care facilities, as well as any carers accompanying them, should maintain high standards of hygiene including the use of hand sanitiser.

Public transport services includes:

  • buses
  • trains
  • ferries
  • trams
  • multi-person transport such as minibuses
  • taxis
  • rideshare services, such as Uber, Ola, Didi, Lyft etc., and
  • carpooling.

Transport NSW has placed green dots on the floor and seats of public transport vehicles to show where it is safe to sit or stand. Individuals with disability should be given priority for seating on public transport.

People with disability, people living in residential disability care facilities, their carers, support workers or group home staff, should plan ahead to travel during times of the day when demand is lower, such as off-peak between 10am and 3pm. Do not travel if you are feeling unwell.

More information about taking public transport during COVID-19 can be found on the Transport NSW website.

Travel within NSW

All flights within NSW require passengers wear a mask for the duration of the travel under the NSW Mandatory face coverings Public Health Order. People with disability who are unable to wear a mask due to their disability would be exempted under section 5(b).

The requirement to wear a mask is likely to change as the risk of community transmission changes.

Anyone who:

  • is unable to wear a mask and is challenged or is denied access to services or businesses because they are not wearing a mask, and
  • cannot resolve the situation with local management

is encouraged to call the Public Health Unit (PHU) on 1300 066 055. The PHU can assist with public health advice that can be provided to the business owner.

Interstate travel

Border information is subject to rapid change. NSW Health recommends checking the cross-border travel requirements of each state or territory prior to travelling and complying with any directions. The Commonwealth Department of Health information on interstate border restrictions can be found at Coronavirus (COVID-19) domestic travel restrictions and remote area access.

Overseas travel

Australia's international borders are currently closed. There are current restrictions on travel to most overseas countries from Australia, and on any returning travellers. This situation may change and the latest information on international travel restrictions can be found at the Commonwealth Department of Health information page on Advice for international travellers.

Current as at: Friday 8 October 2021
Contact page owner: Health Protection NSW