While restrictions are slowly easing in NSW, there are still a number of important rules to follow in relation to COVID-19. 

A new public health order commenced on 1 July 2020 and sets out what NSW businesses can and can’t do, so it’s important to familiarise yourself with these rules before operating again. 

What Does This Mean For My Business?

As of 1 July 2020, most businesses in NSW are allowed to operate normally, as long as they follow the one person per 4 square metre rule. 

If you’re a business hoping to reopen soon, it’s important to consider the following:

  • When working out the maximum number of people allowed on your premises, do not include workers/employees
  • For food and drink businesses, do not include people collecting takeaway orders (this applies to anyone who is not consuming food on the premises)

You can learn more about how to follow the 4 square metre rule here.

Are There Any Exemptions To The 4 Square Metre Rule? 

Yes, gatherings in the following locations are exempt from the 4 square metre rule:

  • Airports
  • Transport, including in vehicles or at truck stops, stations, platforms or stops or other public transport facilities
  • Hospitals and other medical or health service facilities
  • Emergency services and emergency services training
  • Prisons, correctional facilities, youth justice centres or other custody facilities
  • Disability or aged care facilities
  • Courts and tribunals
  • Parliament
  • Supermarkets, grocery stores, shopping centres and markets that mostly sell food, but not other retail businesses
  • Office buildings, farms, factories, warehouses, commercial vessels (excluding vessels providing tours or hosting functions or parties), commercial fishing operations, mining or construction sites
  • Schools, universities, other educational institutions or childcare facilities, excluding events that involve members of the community in addition to staff and students
  • Hotels, motels or other accommodation facilities
  • Outdoor space for the purposes of transiting through the place such as Pitt Street Mall or Parramatta Square
  • Food banks and other services that assist vulnerable and homeless people
  • Early education and care facilities

However, even if you’re working in these areas, it is still best practice to abide by the 4 square metre rule, and ensure that your staff and customers are able to maintain a safe 1.5 metre physical distance at all times.

Working From Home

Employers still need to allow their employees to work from home where possible. This means that staying at home is still a priority for your workers and will help keep your workplace ‘COVID Safe’

If you’re after some tips about returning to work, check out our article about getting back to work in the wake of Coronavirus

What Is A COVID-19 Safety Plan?

Under the rules, the following types of businesses must adopt a COVID-19 Safety Plan:

  • Amusement centres
  • Aquariums
  • Auction houses
  • Betting agencies
  • Beauty salons such as nail, waxing and tanning salons, spas, tattoo parlours and massage parlours
  • Caravan parks and camping grounds
  • Casinos
  • Community centres and halls
  • Drive-in cinemas
  • Entertainment facilities such as theatre, cinema, music hall, concert hall, dance hall and similar premises
  • Food and drink premises
  • Food courts
  • Function centres including conference, convention, exhibition and reception centres
  • Information and education facilities such as art galleries, museums, libraries, visitor information centres
  • Crafts, artisan and clothes markets
  • Micro-breweries and small distilleries
  • Places of public worship
  • National Trust and Historic Houses Trust properties
  • Public indoor swimming pools
  • Public outdoor swimming pools
  • Pubs and registered clubs
  • Indoor recreation facilities such as squash courts, indoor swimming pools, gyms, table tennis centres, health studios, bowling alleys, ice rinks or similar recreation activities
  • Major recreation facilities such as theme parks, sports stadiums, showgrounds, racecourses and motor racing tracks
  • Brothels and other sex services premises
  • Strip clubs
  • Certain kinds of vessels 
  • Zoos and reptile parks

Even if you’re not one of these businesses, it is recommended that all businesses voluntarily prepare a COVID-19 Safety Plan. 

Generally, the plan should cover the following:

  • Hygiene and safety
  • Physical distancing
  • Recording contact details of staff and customers
  • Staff wellbeing

The NSW Government has provided an online checklist for safety plans, tailored to different industries. You can either draft up your own safety plan (following the checklist as a guide) or you can complete the Safety Plan template provided on the NSW Government website here

Keep in mind that you may need to update this safety plan depending on how the restrictions change. 

How To Implement A COVID-19 Safe Plan

In order to become a certified COVID Safe workplace, you need to complete three simple steps to ensure your business complies with the rules:

  1. Complete the COVID-19 Safety Plan
  2. Register as a COVID Safe business
  3. Show that you’re COVID Safe by displaying your COVID Safe posters and sharing your Safety Plan with staff. 

If you are registering as a COVID Safe business, you have obligations to:

  • Keep a copy of your Safety Plan on the premises
  • Make sure that your employees understand their responsibilities under the plan
  • Train new employees to consider the safety of others
  • Only use customers’ details for contact tracing

Record Keeping Obligations

You may also need to keep records of anyone visiting your premises. This will form part of your COVID-19 Safety Plan. 

Essentially, you’ll need to record the name and contact details of staff, customers and contractors entering your premises for at least 28 days. Keep in mind that this information is personal, and as such, it can only be used to trace COVID-19 infections — you cannot use it for anything else! 

It’s important that your business stores this information as securely as possible. 

Penalties

Breaking any of these rules can result in some heavy fines. For any corporation, the maximum penalty is $55,000, followed by $27,500 for each day afterwards. 

The last thing you want is to face a heavy fine for missing a simple step, so make sure your business is prepared and equipped under these new rules. 

Keep in mind that these new rules operate alongside the existing rules around social distancing and hand hygiene. If your business is up and running again, it’s important that all staff and employees understand their general obligations to keep the workplace COVID Safe. 

Need Help? 

It’s crucial your business abides by these new regulations as not doing so could see you facing hefty penalties. Plus, you’ll be doing your bit to keep your staff, customers and community safe. 

If you need help understanding what these new regulations mean for your business, get in touch. Our friendly team will be able to ensure you’re on the right track. We can be reached for a free consultation on 1800 730 617 or at team@sprintlaw.com.au

About Sprintlaw

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