How Can HOAs Keep Their Communities Safer From Coronavirus?
Homeowners associations (HOAs) play a vital role in keeping their communities safer from the coronavirus 2019 disease in their neighborhood and facilities, especially among their vulnerable populations.
Before a community transmission, meticulously planned and implemented counter-measures can go a long way toward preventing COVID-19. The best way to do this is to take proactive measures incorporating flexible policies with a solid contingency plan and procedures that accommodate public health recommendations.
HOAs are obligated to do what is best for each member of its community and that means being available to answer questions, equipped with the latest information. Associations should strive for immediate and transparent communication with association board members and homeowners to curb fears and boost confidence throughout the community.
Factors to Consider When Shaping Your Community’s Action Plan
There is no one-size-fits-all solution for how HOAs should guard their communities against a potential COVID-19 outbreak. However, when determining your community’s coronavirus action plan, the following factors should be considered:
- COVID-19 prevalence in your area — If you are in a county considered a COVID-19 hotspot, your association should take stringent actions to safeguard your community through extensive common area sterilization and social distancing precautions.
- Resident risk levels — COVID-19 is more likely to cause illness or death in the elderly, the infirm, and people with underlying medical conditions. An age-restricted HOA community with a higher concentration of these at-risk groups should take extra precautions to protect these residents by limiting non-essential visitors and creating a buddy system to check on and find care for them if they become sick.
- Government regulations — Make sure your coronavirus containment plans are in compliance with the local and state actions that govern your community.
- Size and scope of your HOA’s obligations — Refer to your bylaws and CC&Rs for specific information regarding the responsibility level your HOA has to its residents. Larger HOAs with extensive common areas will need to do extra to safeguard their residents against coronavirus.
Actions HOAs Can Take to Keep Their Communities Safer
COVID-19 is transmitted easily between individuals and asymptomatic people can circulate the virus. This is why it is important to take bold steps to guard your community against coronavirus even if none of the residents or staff have been diagnosed with the disease.
Reduce Interpersonal Contact
Limit face-to-face contact among residents, guests, and association members as much as possible by:
- Temporarily closing common areas including community pools or gyms, exercising emergency powers through bylaw provisions if necessary.
- Canceling or rescheduling group events.
- Ask residents to limit gathering sizes in their homes.
- Conducting board or meetings virtually over the Internet.
- Allowing residents to cast ballots for important votes by mail or online.
Encourage Social Distancing and Proper Hygiene
Implement and encourage safer social distancing and hygiene procedures by:
- Requiring essential services workers to wear masks and maintain a six-foot distance from residents.
- Educating your residents regarding the benefits of social distancing and encouraging them to wear masks.
- Reminding the association staff and residents to wash their hands frequently and avoid touching their faces.
Reduce Coronavirus Spread in Common Areas
Curtail potential spreading in common spaces that remain accessible to residents by:
- Thoroughly cleaning and disinfecting equipment and other surfaces.
- Requiring cleaning staff to wear gloves and masks, avoid touching their faces, and wash their hands regularly.
- Making hand sanitizer or sanitizing wipes available when they enter the premises.
By taking these actions to reduce physical contact, implement practical social distancing recommendations, and properly clean and disinfect surfaces in common areas, your HOA can do its part to prevent coronavirus in your community.
Communication Is Key to Keeping Your Communities Safer
Clear communication with staff, volunteers, association board members, and homeowners is a vital component to keeping your community safer from coronavirus. Your HOA is responsible for communicating common area closure decisions, meeting changes, and updating the community regarding potential COVID-19 exposures or other public health concerns.
Your HOA plays a critical role in upholding community cohesion and morale, especially when community assemblies are canceled, or common areas are closed. Today, board members and association managers can utilize email and message boards to instantly post and send up-to-date information concerning COVID-19.
CINC Systems is privileged to furnish a robust multi-channel platform where association managers can reliably relay this vital information to homeowners and board members. CINC is pledged to the safety and welfare of the associations, association management companies, boards, homeowners, and partners it serves during this challenging time.
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