Guidelines for businesses and community organisations
The Chief Health Officer (the CHO) has placed requirements on the operation of businesses and organisations to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 being transmitted. These requirements are specified in CHO Directions – 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, general business 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.
- In addition some businesses or organisation may need to collect contact details of any person attending the premises for longer than 15 minutes. Check the CHO directions if your business or organisation is one of them.
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.
Businesses must update their COVID-19 Safety Plan to ensure that it meets the requirements of the new CHO direction. The original online checklists have been updated to include the new requirements. Businesses can complete and submit an online COVID-19 Safety Plan checklist.
The new 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.
The business 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 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.
Note: the Northern Territory Government’s online COVID Safety Supervisor training is in the final stages of completion and will be available shortly.
Collection of contact details
If your business or organisations is one of the organisations that is required to collect the contact details of persons attending your business, than this section will provide you with some guidance. Information required to be collected includes:
- Contact number, email, address or other means of contact (Please note: Not all of these contact details need to be collected, one is enough. It is preferred that the phone number is collected, as this is the easiest method to contact somebody for the purpose of contact tracing.)
- Date and time of entry into the business
Members of the public will be required to provide their contact information every time they enter the premises if they are there for more than 15 minutes.
One family member can provide their details on behalf of their family group.
In the case of a group of children, one accompanying adult can provide the adult’s contact information on behalf of the group.
Some customers may not be able to provide contact details, due to their circumstances. In these cases the business should take the person’s name and the best way to find them, in the event that there is an outbreak linked to the business.
For example, a person with no phone could provide their name and the phone number of a friend or relative. A person experiencing homelessness, could provide the place where they can be found.
The purpose of the CHO Directions is to protect the Territory from COVID-19. The collection of contact details is to allow the Public Health Unit to conduct contact tracing in the event of an outbreak. Businesses have the right, as always, to refuse entry or to ask customers to leave, however it is important that businesses remember their usual legal obligations, such as their obligations under the Anti-Discrimination Act 1992. If a customer is refusing to give any contact information and the business feels that a customer is not taking the CHO direction seriously, the business may choose to refuse that person entry or to ask the customer to leave. Police may be able to provide assistance if the circumstances require it. If, however, a person is confused or has some other impairment or impediment that is making them appear uncooperative, businesses are encouraged to attempt to help the person comply.
Contact details must be recorded and kept securely for 28 days after which all information must be destroyed using appropriate processes.
A business must provide contact details to an authorised officer if directed. The information must not be used for any other purpose than contact tracing.
How to collect contact details
The method used to record customer contact details will be up to the business owner to decide, provided all the requirements can be met.
Business are strongly encouraged to use electronic methods such as a QR Code, as this provides a secure, contactless and hygienic way of collecting details. However some people may not have a phone and businesses may need to have a paper option to collect details of those customers. If details are collected in a paper based system, these have to be stored securely and not left on display.
Territory Check In
The Northern Territory Government has procured our own app - Territory Check-In – to make it easy for your business, organisation or venue to comply with the CHO Directions by enabling customers to self-check-in. This is the same app that is being used in the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania.
Territory Check-In will automatically collect customer contact information. Venues using the app won’t need to manually collect information and won’t need to store that information.
Protect yourself and others
As COVID-19 restrictions are adjusted, 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, volunteers or to the general public.
The manager of a business should provide training to staff and volunteers on hygiene practices and any procedural changes that have been implemented to avoid spread of the virus.
Staff, customers and volunteers should:
- Wash their hands with soap and water after going to the bathroom, after handling money, before and after eating and after touching your face or hair.
- Avoid touching their eyes, mouth and nose.
- Use a hand sanitiser at the beginning of an activity or wash hands with soap and water.
- Any staff member, customer or volunteer with a suspected communicable disease (showing symptoms including coughing, sneezing or flu-like symptoms) should not attend the workplace.
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 activities or services.
Refer to SafeWork Australia for further information on keeping your workplace safe during COVID-19.
Wearing of gloves
Washing hands regularly or using hand sanitiser will 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 usiness’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.
Wearing of masksIf you are feeling well, there is currently no need to wear a protective mask. However wearing a face mask is one of the tools to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and some staff and customers may choose to wear them to feel safer, especially when in close contact.
A business or organisation should:
- During activities, arrange participants from different groups to be 1.5 metres apart from another group.
- Prevent participants from crowding together at the beginning or at the end of activities.
- Arrange seating so participants of different groups are not seated face-to-face.
- Arrange seating so office staff remain 1.5 metres apart and are not seated face-to-face.
- Manage the entry and exit points of the business so customers are not queuing at these points.
- Display, at the entrance to the business, the number of persons that may be inside the business in order to maintain physical distancing.
- Place signage around the business to remind staff, customers and volunteers to maintain hygiene practices and to go home if they feel unwell.
- Place signage around the business to discourage staff, customers and volunteers crowding together in any one area of the business.
- Encourage staff, customers and volunteers to remain 1.5 metres apart when moving through the business.
- If there are times where staff, customers and volunteers need to be closer than 1.5 metres apart, ensure the time spent in close contact is minimised with particular focus on minimising face-to-face close contact, which should be less than 15 minutes face-to-face.
Cleaning and disinfecting
During the pandemic, extra cleaning should 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.
- Clean shared surfaces more frequently, at least twice a day. This could include door handles, bathrooms, service counters, handrails, armrests and equipment.
- 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 to your cleaning and disinfecting procedures.
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.
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 a size that creates protection for the person, especially around the face area.
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, the following 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, hands should be washed with soap and water, or use a hand sanitiser after handling money.
It is important to communicate your COVID-19 safety steps with staff, customers and participants. Provide updates on social media or via emails and provide signage and information at your business. Encourage all your staff, volunteers and customers/attendees to follow these guidelines in their daily life to keep our community safe.