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Guidelines for tour operators - stage 3

The following guidelines have been developed to assist tour operators to resume operations during the staged lifting of restrictions. By 5 June 2020 all tour operators should complete the most relevant online COVID-19 Safety Plan checklist to assist you with adjusting to the new normal and show how you will meet your requirements around the key principles of physical distancing and hygiene practices.

Your business may be subject to a visit from a Public Health Officer during staffed hours to check your COVID-19 Safety Plan arrangements.

The Chief Health Officer (the CHO) has placed requirements on the reopening or resuming of businesses.

These requirements are specified in CHO Directions No 36 PDF (204.3 KB) – Directions for Safety Measures at Reopened Places, Businesses, Activities, Services and Premises (the Directions).

Download guidelines for tour operators PDF (216.9 KB)

CHO Directions and mandatory requirements

Under the Directions, a business must:

  • complete and submit to the Department of Health a COVID-19 safety plan checklist before reopening or resuming
  • make available/provide hand sanitiser to customers unless handwashing facilities are available
  • Display signage 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
      o practising hand hygiene by washing hands or using hand sanitiser
      o   staying home if feeling unwell
      o downloading the COVIDSafe app.

The signs must be displayed in an area or areas that is open to the public and accessible to employees.

A business or organisation that has already submitted a COVID-19 safety plan checklist prior to 5 June 2020, does not need to submit another checklist.

The CHO’s directions are laws and it is an offence to contravene a direction of the CHO.

It is important that you keep informed about the Directions of the Chief Health Officer and any requirements which relate to the types of service that you may deliver.

How coronavirus (COVID-19) is spread

Coronavirus (COVID-19) is spread from person-to-person through close contact and droplets including:

  • direct contact with infected people
  • 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 coronavirus (COVID-19) and protect your business is through maintaining good hygiene practices and following physical distancing principles.

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 and complete the COVID safety plan checklist.

This will allow you to apply practical measures to reduce risk of infection between operators and patrons.

Hygiene practices

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

Tour operator 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.

Staff information

Staff members should not attend work if they are unwell.

Participants with symptoms such as sore throat, runny or blocked nose, coughing or sneezing 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 gloves

Washing hands regularly or using hand sanitiser will offer more protection against coronavirus (COVID-19) than wearing gloves.

If you are feeling well, there is currently no need to wear gloves other than during your normal cleaning procedures.

It is important to change gloves regularly between activities and wash hands thoroughly between glove changing to prevent contamination from used gloves onto the fresh gloves.

Wearing masks

If you are feeling well, there is currently no need to wear a protective mask. People should practise good hygiene and physical distancing in their workplace. For more information: go to Department of Health

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
  • Where possible, place markings on the floor of the premises to indicate 1.5m spacing where participants may queue (for example, at the entrance, bathrooms or service area)
  • At the entry and exit points of the tour vehicles / vessels or buildings encourage participants to queue 1.5 metres apart
  • 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.
  • A minimum distance of 1.5 metres should be maintained at all times between you and any other people who are not part of your close circle of household or family contacts.
    This means you should not come closer than 1.5m (for more than 15 minutes) to other people such as workmates or those who you may encounter in any place outside of your home, other than those who you are already regularly, and necessarily in contact with to perform your work duties, such as a work partner with whom you travel regularly in a vehicle.
    Physical distancing remains one of the most important measures that we all can take to suppress and control the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Refer to SafeWork Australia for more information on physical distancing.

Example scenario

Johnny’s Fish Finding Tours runs a small barra fishing boat which is licenced to carry 6 passengers.

Due to the nature of fishing, passengers are required to move around the boat regularly. When implementing his COVID safety plan John realises he will not be able to maintain 1.5 metres distancing between 6 passengers, so reduces his capacity to 4 passengers.

John encourages passengers to maintain 1.5 metres apart from each other at all times possible and to limit time talking face to face. John gets a call from a group of 6 friends wanting to book a day out fishing. As this group of people are known to each other, John is able to accept the booking.

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 disinfectant which the manufacturer claims can kill viruses.

Chlorine-based (bleach) disinfectants are one product which is suitable.

Read the label and follow the manufacturer’s instructions for dilution and usage.

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 as this concentration has been shown to be effective against the majority of microbial pathogens.

Tour bookings and contact details

A tour operator should provide a booking system to allow for the collection of information to assist health authorities with contact tracing if and when required. This should include (but not limited to):

  • Tour event details, locations, times and dates
  • The ability to collect and record contact details for all passengers (including names, phone numbers and an appropriate address)
  • Information to participants on the COVID-19 safety plan arrangements

Example scenario

Terry owns a tour company that runs 3 day camping tours in Kakadu. Terry runs the tours on a 16 seater couch with forward facing seats. As part of Terry’s booking system, he receives the name and valid phone number, and an appropriate address for all passengers.

Terry has 16 passengers booked on for his next tour and none of the passengers booked together. As the tour will be running with the same group of people for three days and he has accurate contact information, he is able to fill all seats on his coach. Outside of the coach, Terry needs to encourage physical distancing for his group and ensure that his group maintains 1.5 metres apart from people not on his tour.

Rubbish disposal

The risk of transmission of coronavirus (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 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.

More information

Get COVID-19 information for workplaces on the Safe Work Australia website.

Contact Tourism NT or visit the website