Recent Updates

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 and authorised practice managers to check their email inboxes for the full member updates. This page was last updated 27 July 2021.

To continue receiving all member updates, please ensure you have renewed your ADAVB membership, which was due on 1 July 2021.

Dental restrictions

The Victorian Government has announced the current lockdown in Victoria will end at 11.59 pm Tuesday 27 July. This includes the removal of restrictions on the provision of dental care. The Authorised Worker List will no longer apply, meaning dental practices can now return to pre-lockdown activity.

Masks will continue to be required everywhere indoors and outdoors (except private residences), unless an exception applies, and movement between metropolitan Melbourne and regional Victoria is unrestricted.

QR Code Service

All businesses are required to use the free Victorian Government QR Code Service unless an exception applies. Dental practices are not listed as an exception from this requirement, and had to be compliant by 11:59pm 24 June 2021.

Anyone attending a workplace must check in, regardless of how long they spend at the venue. This includes staff, patients and support people or family members, contractors and delivery people.

For patients or visitors without a smart phone, businesses can set-up a kiosk check-in service in the Services Victoria app. This allows businesses to use their own smart phone, tablet or computer to check-in visitors, making it easier to capture their details so that contact tracers can contact people quickly if an outbreak occurs.

If a business that is required to keep electronic records is found without the free Victorian Government QR Code Service in place, or is not requiring customers to check in, they may be issued with a $1652 on-the-spot fine for non-compliance. An improvement notice may be issued at the same time to ensure the non-compliance is rectified.

Screening

Practices should continue to screen patients for symptoms and if they have been at any of the potential exposure sites. Practices near Tier 1 and Tier 2 exposure sites need to be on alert for staff and patients who may have inadvertently crossed paths with potential carriers. You should defer treatment for anyone reporting symptoms or anyone who has been at one of the exposure sites.

Screening patients prior to presenting for treatment remains our first line in helping to reduce the risk of exposure in our practices. Remaining abreast of the exposure sites is challenging and the following strategy may assist practices who use SMS appointment confirmation methods. The links to Department of Health updates permit access to the most up-to-date information for symptoms and exposure sites. You may choose to adapt this to suit your needs. In addition, staff should continue to attest their symptom free status and ensure they are not implicated by exposure sites prior to commencing work.

SMS confirmation: Incorporating COVID screening

[Name] your next appointment is on [day, date and time] with Dr [Name]

Please contact us before attending your appointment if any of the following apply. You:

These questions are relevant to anyone accompanying you on the day.

Confirm YES if these do not apply

Masks [are]/[are not] required to be worn in our facility. [Lawful exceptions apply]

We are happy to answer any questions you have. Contact us on [03] ……..

[Your practice name]

Density requirements

A density quotient of one person per four square metres applies to all premises and spaces that are accessible to the public (and in closed workplaces, to shared spaces such as lunchrooms). Staff who share these publicly accessible spaces are counted in the density quotient.

COVID-19 vaccination

Victoria is now offering the Pfizer vaccine to people in eligible priority groups aged 16 years and over. All health care workers are now eligible to receive the Pfizer vaccine, regardless of age, provided they haven’t already received their first dose of the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine. View information on how to book your COVID-19 vaccine appointment.

COVIDSafe plans

Every employer in Victoria is required to have a COVIDSafe Plan in place for their workplace. 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.

WorkSafe notifications

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.

COVID-19 transmission

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.

Business impact

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.

View the latest survey results.

Further information