Guidelines for business and organisations
The Chief Health Officer (the CHO) has placed requirements on the operation of businesses and organisations including galleries, gaming venues, cinema’s, sports venues, libraries, tour operators, beauty therapists, cosmetic services, body art (tattoo) services, restaurants and bars, cafes, pubs and sex worker businesses to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 being transmitted. These requirements are specified in CHO Directions for Safety Measures for Places, Businesses, Activities, Services and Premises. (the Directions).
COVID-19 is spread from person-to-person through close contact and droplets including:
- direct contact with infected persons
- contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze
- touching contaminated objects or surfaces (like doorknobs or tables), and then touching your mouth or face.
The best way to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and protect your business is through maintaining good hygiene practices, following physical distancing principles and other safety measures as specified in the Directions.
CHO Directions and mandatory requirements
Under the Directions businesses and organisations must:
- Have a COVID-19 safety plan, which they must comply with
- Make available hand sanitiser to customers unless handwashing facilities are available.
- Display signage in areas that are open to the public and accessible to employees stating that a person should consider the following:
- keeping 1.5m away from a person who is not a member of the person’s family, a friend or an acquaintance (a person not known to them);
- if it isn’t possible to keep 1.5m away from a person not known to them - keeping close contact to less than 15 minutes
- practising hand hygiene by washing hands or using hand sanitiser
- staying home if feeling unwell
- downloading the COVIDSafe app.
- Appoint a COVID Safety Supervisor to facilitate the implementation of their businesses COVID-19 Safety Plan.
COVID-19 Safety Plan
Businesses and community organisations must have a COVID-19 Safety Plan to demonstrate how they meet the health directions around the key principles of physical distancing and hygiene practices.
The COVID-19 safety plan checklist must be completed and submitted online. This forms your COVID-19 Safety Plan.
The CHO direction requires that businesses review their COVID-19 Safety Plans at least every six months to make sure they continue to address any required safety responsibilities. If the review of the COVID-19 Safety Plan results in any changes, the updated safety plan must be submitted online with updated information.
Your COVID-19 Safety Plan must be available to show to an authorised officer upon request.
Businesses must comply with their COVID-19 Safety Plan.
COVID Safety Supervisors
The CHO Directions require that the ‘person in authority’ of a business or organisation must appoint a COVID Safety Supervisor to facilitate the implementation of their businesses COVID-19 Safety Plan and other relevant CHO Directions.
The COVID Safety Supervisor can be a person in authority such as the owner or occupier of the business or the person conducting the activity or service, or another person that the person in authority appoints such as a work health and safety officer.
Depending on the complexity, risk and operational hours of a business it may be appropriate to appoint more than one COVID Safety Supervisor to enable the effective implementation of their COVID -19 Safety Plan.
The COVID Safety Supervisor must have the necessary skills and knowledge to undertake their duties. Skills and knowledge may be acquired by
- ‘In house’ training,
- relevant professional experience,
- completing the Northern Territory Government’s free online COVID Safety Supervisor training or the Australian Government infection control training or something similar.
The COVID Safety Supervisor must be able to provide evidence of/demonstrate their skills and knowledge, upon request by an authorised officer.
Protect yourself and others
You should review all aspects of the business that may increase the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
This will allow you to apply practical measures to reduce risk of infection between staff and the general public.
In the ordinary course of business, food businesses must comply with the Food Act 2004 and specifically the food safety requirements in the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code.
Everyone working in a food business has a responsibility to understand and think about how they can contribute towards community-wide efforts to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
In the ordinary course a personal services business must comply with the Public and Environmental Health Regulations 2014.
A personal services business should also follow the Public and Environmental Health Guidelines for Hairdressing, Beauty Therapy and Body Art.
The manager of a business or organisation should provide training to staff on hygiene practices and any procedural changes that have been implemented to avoid the spread of the virus.
- Provide hand sanitiser unless handwashing facilities are available and encourage regular cleaning of hands.
- Use signage to remind staff and people to maintain hygiene practices
- Advise people to not attend premises if they are unwell with symptoms such as sore throat, runny or blocked nose.
- Any staff member with (such as coughing, sneezing, flu-like symptoms) should not attend work.
Information for staff
Staff members and volunteers should not attend work if they are unwell and managers should advise them to go home if unwell.
Customers/attendees with a suspected communicable disease (showing symptoms including coughing, sneezing or flu-like symptoms) should be advised not to attend premises or participate in activities or services.
Refer to SafeWork Australia website for further information on keeping your workplace safe during COVID-19.
Wearing of gloves
Washing hands regularly or using hand sanitiser can offer more protection against COVID-19 than wearing gloves.
If you are feeling well, there is currently no need to wear gloves other than as part of the business’s normal safety practices e.g. cleaning or disinfecting protocols.
It is important to change gloves regularly between activities and wash hands thoroughly between changing gloves to prevent contamination from used gloves onto the fresh gloves.
A business or organisation or business should:
- Encourage participants to maintain a distance 1.5 metres and provide floor markers where appropriate.
- Ensure seating arrangements allow for 1.5 metres between groups and between rows of seats.
- Arrange placement of guests so that customers not from the same group are not seated face to face.
- Manage the entry and exit points of the business so that customers are not queuing at these points.
- Display, at the entrance to the business, the number of guests that may be inside the business in order to maintain physical distancing.
- Place signage around the business to remind staff and guests to maintain hygiene practices and to go home if the staff member or guest is feeling unwell.
- Place signage around the business to discourage guests crowding together in any one area of the business.
- Times where customers need to be closer than 1.5 metres apart, ensure the time spent in close contact is minimised with a particular focus on minimising face-to-face contact. Face-to-face contact with people not from your group should be less than 15 minutes.
In certain situations, a physical barrier such as widening the counter can be used to help maintain physical distance between people.
Opaque or clear screen dividers of a suitable material that can be easily cleaned and disinfected can be used to create separation between people. These barriers should be appropriately designed and installed and be of a size that creates protection for the person, especially around the face area.
Cleaning and disinfecting
During the pandemic, extra cleaning needs to be carried out throughout the business. You should keep your place of business clean and sanitised by taking the following measures:
- Maintain thorough cleaning and disinfection of facilities, and equipment.
- At gyms participants should be told to wipe down shared surfaces after each use e.g. gym and exercise equipment.
- Clean common use areas and shared surfaces more frequently. This could include door handles, front door, cupboards, fridges/freezers handles, bathrooms, service counters, gaming tables, handrails, sporting and gym equipment, EFTPOS keypads, armrests, gaming consoles, controls and equipment.
- Regularly replace/rotate gaming equipment such as dice and chips to allow for cleaning and disinfection.
- If you think a surface may be contaminated, clean it with a common household disinfectant to kill the virus.
- Increase cleaning regimes for all other areas within the business. Consider whether aspects of the Australian Government cleaning advice will add anything more to your cleaning and disinfecting procedures.
- Information for cleaning after a positive COVID-19 case.
Use a chlorine based or similar disinfectant which the manufacturer claims can kill viruses. Household bleach is one product which is suitable, and comes in varying strengths.
Bleach solutions should be made fresh daily as they become less effective over time.
The recommended concentration of available chlorine for routine disinfection of cleaned surfaces is 1000ppm.
The risk of transmission of COVID-19 when handling waste is low. Normal collection of waste for households, retail and other businesses continues.
When managing waste good hygiene practices should be followed.
- Disposable gloves, masks, and other items should be placed in rubbish bag before disposing of them with other domestic waste.
- Hands should be washed with soap and running water or rubbed with hand sanitiser immediately after handling these items.
Promote cashless payments. However, if cash is exchanged, ensure that regular hand washing/sanitising protocols are put in place.
It is important to communicate your COVID-19 safety steps with staff and guests. Provide updates on social media or via emails and provide signage and information at your venue. Encourage all your staff, volunteers, visitors and to follow these guidelines in their daily life to keep our community safe.
For more information
- Contact Environmental Health COVID-19 Compliance on 1800 095 646.
- Further information on food safety and COVID-19 can be found on the Food Standards Australia New Zealand website.
- Safe Work Australia – COVID-19 Information for Workplaces website.
- Northern Territory Government SecureNT website.
- The united body for Australia's health and well-being AUSactive.
- COVID-19 information for sex workers Scarlet Alliance Red Book.