As the State Government continue easing the COVID-19 restrictions, there are many questions on our minds. Training Coordinator Julie Matthews chats to POVG Chair Colin Armstrong about why you can feel at ease joining us on tours.

Julie: How are we keeping volunteers and visitors safe on tours?

Colin: Health and safety is our priority. On top of a very rigorous cleaning and sanitising schedule, we’ve refreshed the kitchen and lecture theatre to maintain 1.5m between tables. Volunteers and visitors will all follow rules for maintaining a healthy distance throughout the venue and maintaining the 2 square metres per person. We also have a new one-way traffic flow, with a dedicated entrance and another dedicated exit.

J: Does the Observatory have hand sanitiser?

C: Yes, we have multiple hygiene stations throughout the Observatory site with alcohol-based hand sanitiser, including our entrance foyer, telescope domes, toilets, and other buildings. We conduct and record thorough and regular cleaning of common contact surfaces, ‘high touch’ items and shared amenities.

J: Do Perth Observatory volunteers have special training?

C: All Perth Observatory Volunteers on our tours have completed AHA Hospital and Tourism COVID-19 Hygiene Training. In addition, briefings before tours remind volunteers of the standards and protocols required.

We also communicate COVID-19 restrictions, policies and procedures to volunteers and visitors, electronically and via notices around the venue.

J: How many visitors are on a tour?

C: Phase 3 of the COVID-19 WA roadmap allows us a maximum of up to 100 visitors, per single undivided space, and up to 300 visitors on site (excluding volunteers and staff) — though we don’t expect that many guests!

We comply with State and Federal Government requirements and satisfy individual volunteers’ preparedness to work.

J: What happens when visitors arrive for a tour?

C: As you expect at Perth Observatory, you get warmly welcomed, with hand sanitiser. As all bookings are made online, we then mark you ‘arrived’ on our list. We’re also checking body temperatures and asking some basic health questions.

J: Is the shop open?

C: Yes, and we’re restricting entry to two visitors at a time. Everyone is asked to sanitise their hands before entry and avoid touching items where possible. We also encourage cashless payments.

J: Who is cleaning door handles, ladder rails, and telescope eyepieces?

C: Telescope Operators are cleaning the eyepieces. During tours the doors to telescope domes are open so there’s no need for additional cleaning.

Because all visitors sanitise their hands first, while ladder handrail cleaning is frequent, it’s unnecessary to do between every visitor.

J: How do we know cleaning has been done?

C: A Hygiene Officer is on duty for every tour, and they will ensure appropriate cleaning has been done. You will see in the foyer a notice identifying that day’s Host and Hygiene Officer.

We have cleaning schedules displayed throughout the observatory, including the Foyer, Museum, Shop, Toilets, Domes. These record the date, time and Initials of the cleaning, like in public conveniences such as airports, and shopping centres.

J: What happens if an observatory visitor later tests positive for COVID-19?

C: If this situation arises, POVG will cooperate with the Public Health Authorities to make the necessary arrangements.

Perth Observatory maintains a comprehensive record of volunteers, as well as visitors to the Observatory, to assist authorities with contact tracing in the event of a COVID-19 case.

Thank you, Colin! We look forward to a safe future and clear night skies.