COVID will not be the grinch that stole Christmas

COVID will not be the grinch that stole Christmas

4 December 2020

There is no question that Australia is blessed compared to much of the world. While many countries are facing tightening restrictions in the lead up to Christmas, the restrictions in NSW are easing even further from Monday 7 December.

With singing and dancing now permitted, our work Christmas events are likely to be livelier affairs than previously envisaged!

Christmas mass and carols

For those organisations holding or attending mass, the one person per 2 square metres will apply with no maximum cap on numbers.

Just in time for carols up to 50 singers will be able to perform indoors – with no limit outdoors. Face masks are still recommended if the congregation is participating in the singing (12 years and older).

Christmas parties 

In a much needed boost to the hospitality industry, and making it more likely to get a booking for a team lunch or dinner if you don’t have one already, all hospitality venues will be allowed to have one person per two square metres (with 25 people permitted before the rule applies).

At all venues, the number of people that can be seated at a table has increased to 30 people.

Hospitality venues and function centres must still have a COVID-19 safety plan in place, which requires food and alcohol to be consumed while seated. Food buffets are still out but good news – for some at least – is that dancing will be permitted!  Up to 50 people will be able to be on a dance floor indoors.

If you hold a Christmas party in a public park, a reserve or a public garden, you will be able to have up to 100 people (you’ll also need to complete and register a COIVD-19 safety plan).

The requirement for employers to allow employees to work from home if it is reasonably practicable to do so will end on 14 December. Where you still have staff working from home or have staff who are older and/or with pre-existing medical conditions, you may want to consider a virtual Christmas party. This further relaxing of restrictions may also have come too late for some, with many employers already having put in place plans for online team or business wide celebrations.

An employee attending a Christmas event online is still at work and so dancing, physical games and consumption of alcohol are work health safety risks that should still be assessed. There are many enterprising businesses providing services for virtual Christmas parties, including food packages and virtual experiences (everything from wreath making to wine or cheese tasting).

If you invite staff to your home to celebrate Christmas, you can have up to 50 people. If there is no outdoor area, a maximum of 30 people is recommended.

CCER’s top tips for Christmas parties

CCER has updated its checklist for a successful and safe Christmas party to take account of COVID and virtual events:

  • Ensure you have HR policies in place that address potential issues – including social media for virtual Christmas events
  • Send staff a memo/email reminding them of their responsibilities and your expectations
  • Remind staff of what is considered acceptable behaviour prior to the party
  • Appoint a responsible person to supervise and give them clear authority to act if they see inappropriate behaviour – for virtual events, this person should have administrator privileges
  • For in person events:
    • Complete a COVID-19 safety plan and register it if required
    • Remind staff they should only attend events in person if they are feeling well and don’t have any respiratory or COVID-19 symptoms
    • Ensure COVID-19 hygiene and physical distancing is practiced
    • Avoid self-serve buffets and communal snacks
    • Consider prearranging taxis or drivers to ensure everyone gets home safely – fewer employees may be able to go in the same car this year
  • For virtual events:
    • Confirm the address where employees will be located and ensure the moderator has access to these details if required in an emergency

However, you celebrate with your staff and colleagues this year, we wish you a joyful and safe Christmas.

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6

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