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Guidelines for tour operators

The Chief Health Officer (the CHO) has placed requirements on 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, tour operators 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.
  • Collect the contact details of any person attending the premises for longer than 15 minutes.

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.

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 must appoint a COVID Safety Supervisor to facilitate the implementation of their business’s 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 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.

https://www.health.gov.au/resources/apps-and-tools/covid-19-infection-control-training

Note: the Northern Territory Government’s online COVID Safety Supervisor training is in the final stages of completion and will be available shortly.

The COVID Safety Supervisor must be able to provide evidence of/demonstrate their skills and knowledge, upon request by an authorised officer.

Collection of contact details

You must collect the contact details of persons attending your business. Information required to be collected includes:

  • Name
  • 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

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.

Hygiene practices

The owner or operator of a tour business should provide training to staff on hygiene practices and any procedural changes that have been implemented to avoid spread of the virus.

Tour operators should:

  • Provide hand sanitiser to participants unless handwashing facilities are available
  • Encourage participants to bring their own hand sanitiser on remote tours
  • Place signage around tour vehicles / vessels to remind staff and passengers to maintain hygiene practices
  • Advise participants when they book and when they arrive at a tour to not participate if they are unwell with symptoms such as sore throat, runny or blocked nose.
  • Any staff member who is unwell with symptoms such as sore throat, runny or blocked nose, coughing or sneezing should not attend work.

Tour operators and participants should:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use hand sanitiser at the beginning, during and end of a tour, after going to the bathroom, before and after eating and after touching your face or hair
  • Avoid touching their eyes, mouth and nose
  • Any participants who is unwell with symptoms such as sore throat, runny or blocked nose, coughing or sneezing should stay at home and not attend tours.

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 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.

Wearing of masks

If 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.

See advice on facemasks

Physical distancing

A tour operator should, during tours:

  • Encourage participants to maintain 1.5 metres distance from others
  • Arrange seating so passengers of different booking groups are not seated face-to-face
  • Encourage persons from your tour group to maintain 1.5 metres apart from other tour groups
  • Ensure staff and passengers are aware of the maximum capacity of persons on vehicles / vessels that will allow for people and groups to maintain physical distancing
  • Place signage around the tour vehicle / vessel to discourage participants crowding together in any one area
  • Encourage tour groups to remain 1.5 metres apart when moving around a vessel or on guided tour
  • If there are times where participants 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 tour operation. You should keep your place of business clean and sanitised by taking the following measures:

  • Maintain thorough cleaning and disinfection of facilities, transport vehicles and equipment
  • Clean shared surfaces more frequently, at least twice a day or after each tour group. This could include door handles, bathrooms, 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.

Cleaning products

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.

Rubbish disposal

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:

  • Items should be placed in a 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.

Payments

Promote cashless payments. However, if cash is exchanged, hands should be washed with soap and water, or use a hand sanitiser after handling money.

Communication

It is important to communicate your COVID-19 safety steps with staff and participants. Provide updates on social media or via booking emails and provide signage and information at your business. Encourage all your staff, and participants to follow these guidelines in their daily life to keep our community safe.

Encourage all staff and tour participants to download the COVIDSafe app. The app assists health officials to contact you if you have been in close contact with another user of the app who has tested positive to the virus.

For more information

  • Get COVID-19 information for workplaces on the Safe Work Australia website
  • Contact Tourism NT or visit the website