We have welcomed the news that a number of the COVID-19 related restrictions imposed across the State have begun to lift.
There will be some restrictions and important safety measures in place to ensure the safety of our staff and customers. Some facilities will have reduced days / hours of operation. Check the information below to be kept up-to-date.
During this challenging time our priority remains the safety and well-being of our community, staff and volunteers.
We are following the advice of the Australian Government, World Health Organisation (WHO) and NSW Health in the implementation of measures to help minimise any possible infections.
What's open, and what's closed?
Services and facilities that are open:
- Our Customer Service Centres
- Libraries (except Nabiac and Old Bar) - from 1 June
- Manning Regional Art Gallery - from 1 June
- Visitor Information Centres at Forster and Gloucester - from 1 June
- Ocean baths at Forster Main Beach and Black Head - no more than 10 people at a time and no more than one person in a lane
- Parks, playgrounds, skateparks and outdoor exercise equipment
- Barbecue and picnic shelters
- Pound facilities, for animal care purposes only (no public access - to arrange collection of an impounded animal please call us on 7955 7777)
- Public amenities for as long as they can be appropriately cleaned and hygiene facilities provided (supply shortages and increased theft / vandalism has made provision of toilet paper and soap difficult; please note facilities may be closed at short notice if these requirements cannot be fulfilled)
- Taree Airport - to service FlyPelican's flight schedule
- Gloucester’s Service NSW and Services Australia (Centrelink) agencies
- Council controlled beaches and lakes
- Natural swimming enclosures such as tidal pools in rivers and lakes
Kerbside waste collections now commence earlier - For the safety of drivers and to facilitate social distancing, restrictions on start times for waste collection vehicles have been lifted so that start times can be staggered. Please place your bins out the night before your collection day.
Services and facilities that are closed:
- Libraries at Nabiac and Old Bar (online services are still available)
- Council-owned swimming pools, including the YMCA facilities in Taree, Forster and Wingham
- Visitor Information Centres at Taree, Tea Gardens, Bulahdelah and Pacific Palms (phone and online support is available for local tourism operators)
- The Manning Entertainment Centre
- Halls usually available for bookings
- All Council-owned/operated camping facilities (this applies to free camping sites, camping facilities at some of our showgrounds)
- All public tennis courts (please check with local tennis clubs).
Whether closed or not, and whether sign-posted or not, all public facilities such as parks, beaches and other open spaces are subject to the Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order, which will be enforced by NSW Police. It is important that you know what you can and can't do under the rules, which you can find here.
How to continue to do business with us
There are plenty of ways you can continue to do business with us, without having to leave home. Our customer service team is operating, and will be responding to phone, email and website enquiries. Our website can also help you in a variety of ways.
Contact us by phone or email - Go to the contact us page
Pay your rates - Set up a direct debit, pay online or over the phone
Change your rates notice address - Use the simple online form
Fill in a form online, or print it out and post it to us - Go to the forms library
Request a service or report a problem - Use our simple online form
Track a Development Application online - Use online application tracking
Get involved on a range of current topic and public exhibitions - Have your say online
Find out about roadworks in your area - Council Roadworks
Supporting local business
We've launched a brand new website, to help you to access information and help and continue to do business during COVID-19 restrictions, with a business directory for your customers all in one place:
MidCoast Business Directory
- searchable by business location or business type - and your business can be listed free of charge.
Business Help Hub
- provides businesses with quick access to all help and available assistance
COVID-19 Info and updates
- Follow the latest information from NSW Health and other official sources
Support for individuals and households
There is a range of financial support available for individuals and households that can be accessed through Service NSW.
Rates and financial support
Council has a legal obligation to send rates notices according to a pre-determined schedule, however we are conscious of the stress the April rates notice may have at this time.
We know the pandemic has left many people in our community with a loss of income and uncertainty.
To help support those who have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 crisis there are several options for businesses and ratepayers to consider such as:
- entering into a payment arrangement
- amending an existing payment arrangement to suit their current financial position
- seeking a deferral of payment for a three month period as a last resort
- applying for interest to be waived where an application has been lodged for either a payment plan or a deferral of payment
We have also undertaken not to start any new debt recovery action for outstanding accounts for those experiencing hardship.
These measures apply to rates, annual charges, water accounts and sundry debtor accounts including food premises inspection accounts.
If you have been impacted by COVID-19 and would like to apply for rate relief, please complete the Application Form here.
MidCoast Assist (Ageing and Disability Services)
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, MidCoast Assist has taken a number of measures to ensure that our services continue to be delivered as safely as possible for our clients and staff. The procedures we have taken are in line with advice and direction from the NSW and Commonwealth Departments of Health. We are constantly reviewing our processes and making decisions based on ongoing advice.
As a result, all of our group activities have been suspended until we feel we can deliver these safely and instead we are offering other ways for our clients to stay socially connected. We have also made modifications to the other services we provide.
Find out more about MidCoast Assist's response to COVID-19 here
What’s new or changing?
- Amendments have been made to the Local Government Act 1993 (the Act) allowing councils to meet remotely to assist them to manage the risk of transmission of the COVID-19 virus at their meetings and to ensure compliance with the Public Health Order. The amendments take effect immediately.
- The amendments will operate for a period of six months, but may be extended to 12 months by regulation if required.
What this will mean for your council
Council and committee meetings can be held remotely, and individual councillors can participate in meetings remotely.
- An amendment has been made to the Act providing that any requirement that councillors attend a meeting is satisfied if the meeting is held remotely using audio-visual links.
- This means that councillors can now participate in meetings by an audio-visual link instead of attending in person.
- Council meetings can be held entirely remotely by audio-visual link. Alternatively, where councils continue to meet in person, individual councillors are permitted to participate in the meeting by audio-visual link.
- Where councillors participate in meetings remotely by an audio-visual link, they continue to be obliged to disclose and appropriately manage conflicts of interest they may have in matters being considered at meetings. Councillors continue to be obliged to remove themselves from the consideration of matters in which they have a pecuniary or significant non-pecuniary conflict of interest.
Attendance of members of the public at meetings
- The requirement under section 10 of the Act for members of the public to be permitted to attend meetings can now be satisfied by livestreaming the meeting using an audio-visual link. Where meetings are livestreamed in this manner, members of the public can be excluded from the chamber.
- Councils continue to be permitted to close their meetings to the public on the grounds specified under section 10A of the Act. Where councils livestream their meetings, they should ensure that the webcast is stopped while the meeting is closed to the public and resume it when the meeting is reopened to the public.
- Where councils continue to permit members of the public to physically attend meetings, the numbers of members of the public present in the chamber can and should be limited to comply with the Public Health Order and the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee’s recommendations on indoor gatherings
Local Government elections
The Minister for Local Government has postponed the 2020 local government elections for 12 months. The decision was made as a measure to slow the spread of COVID-19, known to proliferate in assemblies. The next Local Government elections will take place in September 2021.
MidCoast Council’s Mayor David West was appointed in 2019 and as such will continue in the role until September 2021 when Councillors elect a Mayor.
More info on the NSW Office of Local Government website
Free TAFE courses
21 fee-free TAFE NSW short courses are now available online to assist anyone across the State who wants to upskill during the COVID-19 pandemic.
These select courses will assist job seekers and workers looking to diversify their skills during these times.
Courses available include:
- eMarketing for Small Business
- Engaging Customers Using Social Media
- Writing and Presentation Skills
- Computing Skills
- Team Leader Skill Set
- Administration Skills for Team Leaders
More information, including a full list of courses, is available here or by calling 131 601
Where do I get accurate information on COVID-19?
Right now, there's plenty of inaccurate information around about coronavirus.
It's important to stay calm, and receive the correct information at the official websites, which are being updated daily:
Australian Government health alerts
World Health Organisation
If you require any assistance, please call the Healthdirect Helpline 1800 022 222.
How can I protect my health?
What if I feel unwell?
If you develop a fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath, and you have travelled to an affected area in the last 14 days or you have had contact with someone confirmed to have COVID-19:
- stay at home - don't risk infecting others.
- you should follow the advice on the NSW Health website, which includes calling your doctor, visiting the Emergency Department or calling Healthdirect 1800 022 222.