Amanda Farmer is fearful of future delta outbreaks in strata communities. Image Supplied & Canva.
  • Strata communities are being urged not to be complacent, given the infectious nature of the delta variant
  • Over 200 residents at a Southbank complex were ordered into quarantine due to outbreak
  • Work-from-home means more residents tend to be moving around buildings than previously

Faced with the highly transmissible variants of the virus – such as the delta variant that caused Melbourne’s recent lockdown – strata communities are being warned not to be complacent, according to a lawyer and strata specialist Amanda Farmer.

Ms Farmer, of Lawyers Chambers, said the recent outbreak at a Southbank unit complex serves as a wake-up call for apartment dwellers to remain alert. At least six residents have been infected, placing over 200 residents under a two-week quarantine.

“Now is not the time to ease off on increased cleaning schedules and tough hygiene protocols that communities may have put in place this time last year,” she said.

“We’re hearing the transmission occurred in ‘common areas’ but this is a low-rise complex with limited shared facilities, so this must mean transmission in hallways and foyers.”

“Perhaps we are seeing just how transmissible these newer variants of the virus really are. Every complex is at risk and without increased vigilance they put their surrounding communities at risk also.”

Amanda Farmer, Lawyers Chambers

Ms Farmer, who also hosts the Your Strata Property podcast, said that since the initial concerns of last year, apartment dwellers had become complacent, with face-to-face meetings resuming and social distancing not always being practised.

As many are still working from home, she argues more residents than ever are regularly moving around strata buildings.

“Given people are living in such close quarters, instead of thinking that they’ll up the vigilance if an outbreak occurs in the community, they need to instead assume that the virus is already present and circulating,” she said.

“This will impact their behaviour accordingly. It’s worked for public spaces – we need to also head in the right direction with apartments to reduce risk.” 

However, Ms Farmer added that common sense still needs to present, noting some of the rules placed last year, she felt, were too stringent.

“I know of buildings that introduced new house rules and by-laws during the height of the pandemic last year, enforcing COVID protocols such as mandatory reporting of positive test results, harsh restrictions on the use of shared facilities and bans on delivery people.

“In my view, some of these by-laws overreach and I do have concerns about the ability of communities to lift these kinds of restrictions on everyday freedoms when we’re hopefully on the other side of this.”

“By-laws are hard to get across the line at a strata meeting, but once they are through, they are similarly hard to change or reverse in the future. There needs to be a happy medium so people can still go about living their lives, but within sensible parameters.”

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