Keep up to date with what's happening in Victoria and what this means for your practice.
Here we have compiled the current information about COVID-19, any applicable restrictions and what they mean for your practice. We encourage ADAVB members to continue to check their inbox for ongoing member updates and advice. This page was last updated 26 March 2021.
From 6pm Friday 26 March, patients and staff are not required to wear a facemask in the waiting room in dental practices. Masks will no longer be required indoors and in retail settings, but will still be required on public transport, rideshare and taxis and in hospitals and aged care facilities.
We are still recommending that dentists provide treatment according to ADA Level 1 restrictions, which recommend the use of pre-procedural mouth rinse and rubber dam for aerosol generating procedures.
For further information about ADA dental restriction levels visit: ada.org.au/covid19.
Workplaces must still comply with the density quotient requirements for shared spaces such as waiting rooms and staff rooms, with a maximum of one person per two square metres.
QR code service
The ADAVB strongly encourages members to use the Victorian Government QR Code Service to assist with contact tracing if required. Please refer to the Victorian Government's COVIDSafe settings for further information. This is the most convenient way to record all visitors’ details in one place when they are there for longer than 15 minutes. If visitors don’t have a mobile phone to scan a QR code, their details must be recorded either using appointment booking software or paper records.
Businesses that don’t use electronic record-keeping must apply the four-square metre rule.
From 27 March 2021, businesses using a QR code to collect visitor records must either use the Victorian Government’s QR Code Service for electronic record-keeping or QR code providers connected to the visitation Application Programming Interface (API) developed by the Victorian Government. These link to the Victorian Department of Health contact tracing system.
More information is available at the Business Victoria website.
COVID-19 vaccination update
The Phase 1B roll-out for the COVID-19 vaccines commenced on 22 March. All members of the dental team are eligible to receive the vaccine in this phase. ADA has a template proof of employment letter that you can use for staff members who are not registered with Ahpra. There are seven million people eligible to be vaccinated in Phase 1B, so we encourage members to be patient with health services as they gradually increase their capacity. Dental staff will receive either the Pfizer or AstraZeneca vaccine depending on what is available at the location where they receive the vaccination. You will not have a choice of which vaccine you receive.
Employers must not require a worker to work at more than one work site, but this doesn’t apply if it affects the ability of the businesses to operate. Employers should try and minimise the requirement to have staff work across multiple work sites by rostering staff to only one workplace if possible. If a staff member works for two different employers, then the employee must provide a written declaration to each employer stating they are working across multiple sites, and the employer must keep a record of workers who work across multiple sites.
Every employer in Victoria is required to have a COVIDSafe Plan in place for their workplace. The exception is businesses with fewer than five employees. Key messages for employers:
- Every employer must have a COVIDSafe Plan, including employers within the healthcare and social assistance sectors
- Workplaces do not have to lodge their COVIDSafe Plan with the Victorian Government; however, you may be required to provide your COVID Safe Plan to DHHS or WorkSafe upon request or in the event of a confirmed positive case at your workplace
- The COVID Safe Plan template and guidance on creating a COVID Safe workplace can be found here (Note: you are required to use the COVIDSafe Plan template supplied by Business Victoria)
- The ADA also has a COVID Safe Plan (member only) available on its website, under Practice Policies.
Employers must notify WorkSafe immediately on becoming aware that an employee, an independent contractor or a contractor's employee has received a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis and has attended the workplace during the infectious period (14 days prior to the onset of symptoms or a confirmed diagnosis until the day on which they receive clearance from isolation from the Department of Health and Human Services). Self-employed persons are also required to directly inform WorkSafe immediately on receiving a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis if they have attended the workplace during the infectious period.
Failing to notify WorkSafe under section 38 of the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic) can lead to fines of up to $39,652 for an individual or $198,264 for a body corporate. The new regulations came into force on 28 July 2020 and will remain in place for 12 months.
Information about notifying WorkSafe Victoria is available on its website.
Urgent dental treatment for confirmed or suspected COVID-19 cases or those in quarantine
Dental Health Services Victoria advises that urgent treatment for confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases should be managed in an acute hospital with an OMFS registrar. These include The Royal Melbourne Hospital, Austin Hospital, Dandenong Hospital, Monash Medical Centre, St Vincent’s Hospital, University Hospital Geelong – Barwon, Footscray Hospital – Western Health, and The Royal Children’s Hospital. Learn more here.
It is important to communicate to all members of the dental team the fundamental measures to take outside of the dental practice to stay safe:
- Maintain physical distancing of at least 1.5m from others
- Practice good hygiene, including hand-washing and sanitising, particularly when shopping or in external environments
- Practice good cough and sneeze etiquette – cough or sneeze into a flexed elbow, and wash your hands after using a tissue
- If you are feeling unwell, get tested, stay home and avoid contact with others
- Encourage your staff members to pass this advice on to their family and friends.
Dental practice setting
Any member of the dental team could contract COVID-19 and bring it into the dental practice while they are asymptomatic, and risk spreading it to other members of the team. To reduce the risks of spreading COVID-19:
- Ensure that team members always maintain adequate distancing where possible, including when they are wearing face masks
- Consider staggering meal breaks to minimise the number of staff in common areas
- Do not share drink bottles, and avoid sharing glasses, crockery or cutlery in the workplace unless they are cleaned in a dishwasher on a high heat setting. If there is no dishwasher, ensure that staff can wash and dry their own items
- Review processes where members of the team may share or touch the same item in the practice, e.g. telephones, keyboards, photocopiers and EFTPOS machines, and minimise shared items where possible. Ensure that staff maintain good hand hygiene in these situations
- Provide a physical barrier between patients and reception staff
- Ask practice staff to wear a mask when they are unable to keep 1.5m distance from others, in line with the Victorian Government’s recommendation.
Healthcare worker infections
The Victorian Government publishes information and data on healthcare worker infections.
During the second wave, 42 per cent of infections occurred in aged care settings, and 32 per cent were in hospitals, with nurses (41 per cent) and aged/disability care workers (41 per cent) having the highest number of infections. Dental practitioners were grouped in the 13 per cent of other healthcare workers who have contracted the virus.
If you or any member of your team has tested positive for COVID-19, please call our Community Relations team on 8825 4600 for a confidential discussion.
Following government directives and ADAVB recommendations
There are several risks that members expose themselves to by not following government directives or recommendations, or our recommendations to practice under restrictions where applicable. Risks include:
- You, a staff member or patient may contract COVID-19 in the workplace
- You may not be meeting your occupational health and safety obligations. Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (Vic), employers are required to take all reasonably practicable steps to protect the health and safety of their employees in the workplace. Continuing to practice outside what is specified by the Government or recommended by us exposes employers to the potential for liability if one of their staff members contracts COVID-19 in the workplace
- Potential professional indemnity exposure. Guild has advised that practitioners should comply with all published professional and/or government protocols and standards, and this would include the ADAVB dental practice recommendations.
The Dental Board of Australia has said that dental practitioners have a duty to make the care of patients or clients their first concern, and to practise safely and effectively, noting that the risk of transmission may increase due to an outbreak or hot spot of COVID-19.
We are aware of the impact that dental restrictions have had on your business and the requirement to manage your staff. It is important that you understand your HR obligations before making any decisions regarding stand downs of staff during the pandemic. Members can find advice for both employees and employers at www.ada.org.au/covid19.
To help us understand and monitor the impact of COVID-19 on private sector dentistry, ADAVB members were surveyed periodically throughout 2020 to determine how COVID-19 impacts changed over time. These survey results have guided us in the work that we do for our members. They also provided essential data to advocate for more support for dental practices.
- Up-to-date information on COVID-19 restrictions is available on the Department of Health and Human Services website.
- Refer to the ADA’s COVID-19 web page for further information on COVID-19 guidelines for dental practices, and information about PPE and stock availability.
- Member update email 7 December
- ADAVB COVID business impact survey results, 28 March – 20 September 2020 (member only)
- Member update emails: 6 and 15 October
- 16 September news
- Media coverage
- 11 September news
- ADAVB COVID business impact survey results March – August 2020 (member only)
- Member update emails: 27, 24, 16, 13, 10, 7 and 3 September