Victoria has extended its “hotels for heroes” to include people working in community-based pharmacy
Hotels for Heroes provides free accommodation in hotels or apartments for frontline workers who have had exposure to coronavirus or have a positive coronavirus diagnosis and cannot safely self-isolate at home.
The program was earlier made available to clinical and non-clinical hospital staff, including pharmacists as well as workers such as cooks and cleaners, at public and private hospitals that directly engage with patients, as well as frontline paramedics and patient transport staff.
Under the expansion, free hotel and apartment rooms will also be made available to Victoria Police, youth justice, Corrections Victoria, and Metropolitan Fire Brigade and Country Fire Authority firefighters involved in Emergency Medical Response.
Staff working in disability supported independent living, public sector residential aged care, Aboriginal community-controlled health organisations, community-based pharmacy, hospital laboratories, and workers in primary care settings would also be eligible for free accommodation to self-isolate under the expansion.
The State Government says that the expansion will ensure that more critical frontline workers can keep their families or housemates safe, without the financial burden of taking on extra rent.
This is particularly important for those who live with other frontline workers or members of vulnerable cohorts – including people over 65, people who are immunosuppressed or have an underlying chronic condition, pregnant women, or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Minister for Disability, Ageing and Carers Luke Donnellan said that “Our frontline workers already do so much to look after the rest of us, the least we can do is give them the peace of mind that they’ve got a free, safe place to go if they need it.”
“This expansion will continue to help slow the spread of the virus, protect our health system and save lives.”
The Pharmacy Guild welcomed the move, highlighting that community pharmacies are at the frontline of battling the pandemic and are already under intense pressure.
Welcoming the announcement Victorian Branch President, Anthony Tassone said, “This is a great step by the Andrews Government towards recognising the critical role community pharmacy plays in the health and wellbeing of our community”.
“This expansion will bring much comfort to some pharmacists and their teams of pharmacy assistants who are already working under very challenging circumstances serving on the frontline.”