New hygiene rules just a lot of hot air

CHILDCARE workers say they would have to hire a full-time cleaner if they were to enforce controversial new hygiene guidelines.

A host of recommendations from the National Health and Medical Research Council was slammed yesterday by medical professionals and the childcare sector.

Among them was a call for daycare staff to wash toys, doorknobs, floors and cushion covers daily.

There was at least one of the proposed strict rules that some could agree with — a ban on blowing out candles on communal birthday cakes.

“If you have seen a child blowing out a candle you would understand. It’s quite gross,” Wilcox Street Childcare Centre director Tanya Sanders said.

Miss Sanders said centre staff were already well aware of the guidelines and abided by many of the sensible recommendations including a separate cupcake for the birthday boy or girl to blow out as desired.

They also cleaned toys belonging to the younger children daily because they had the tendency to put them in their mouths.

“But cushions, there is no way that we can clean cushions every day,” she said.

“I just think there is so much pressure on staff already, just adding all these extra jobs you end up spending so much time cleaning and you spend less time with the children.”

Yesterday Health Minister Tanya Plibersek moved to hose down concerns about the council’s guidelines, saying childcare centres would not be punished by not enforcing them.

“There’s a degree of commonsense required,” Ms Plibersek said.

“We’re not going to have the cupcake police out, but childcare centres know that whatever they can do to reduce infections in childcare centres is going to be good for the kids, good for the families they support and good for childcare workers.”

At Wilcox Street, Miss Sanders said sometimes parents wouldn’t bring their kids to daycare if they saw a sign on the door of a gastro outbreak and worried there was a danger children weren’t being allowed to build up their immunity.

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