Guidelines for food businesses - stage 3
From noon on 5 June 2020, restaurants, cafes and bars (a food business) will be able to operate to the new normal.
However, the Chief Health Officer (the CHO) has placed requirements on the reopening or resuming of food businesses.
These requirements are specified in CHO Directions No 36 – Directions for Safety Measures at Reopened Places, Businesses, Activities, Services and Premises (the Directions).
CHO Directions and mandatory requirements
Under the Directions, a food 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
- practising hand hygiene by washing hands or using hand sanitiser
- staying home if feeling unwell
- 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 food business 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 restrictions which relate to the types of services that you may deliver.
Information if you work in a food business
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.
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.
How coronavirus (COVID-19) is spread
Currently, there is no evidence of food-borne transmission being a significant pathway.
Food Standards Australia New Zealand provides further advice in relation to this matter.
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
You should review all aspects of the food business that may increase the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission.
This will allow your food business to apply practical measures to reduce risk of infection between staff or to the general public.
The manager of a food business should provide training to staff on hygiene practices and any procedural changes that have been implemented to avoid spread of the virus.
Food handlers and other staff should:
- wash your hands frequently when preparing foods, after going to the bathroom, after handling money and after touching your face or hair
- avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose
- avoid touching areas that have been in direct contact with a customer
- any staff member with a suspected communicable disease (such as coughing, sneezing, flu-like symptoms) should be excluded from the workplace.
Staff members should not attend work if they are unwell. Managers should advise staff members to go home if the staff member is unwell.
Staff members should not attend work if they are unwell and managers should advise them to go home if unwell.
Any staff member symptoms such as sore throat, runny or blocked nose, coughing or sneezing should be excluded from the workplace.
Refer to SafeWork Australia for further information on keeping your workplace safe during COVID-19.
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 as part of the businesses normal food safety practices (such as handling ready to eat foods).
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.
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
A food business should:
- seat different groups of customers at tables that are 1.5 metres away from another group.
- arrange table seating so different groups of customers are not seated face-to-face.
- encourage customers to remain 1.5 metres apart when moving through the business.
- at times where customers 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, to less than 15 minutes.
- 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 customers that may be seated inside the business in order to maintain physical distancing
- place signage around the business to remind customers and employees to maintain hygiene practices and to go home if the customer or employee is feeling unwell
- place signage around the business to discourage customers crowding together in any one area of the business.
Cleaning and disinfecting
During the pandemic, extra cleaning should be carried out throughout the food business.
You should keep your place of business clean and sanitised by taking the following measures:
- Maintain thorough cleaning and sanitising of facilities, equipment, and transport vehicles (including food contact surfaces and equipment).
- Clean shared surfaces more frequently, at least twice a day. This could include door handles (front door, fridges/freezers handles), bathrooms, service counters, handrails and EFTPOS keypads.
- If you think a surface may be contaminated, clean with appropriate cleaning products.
- Increase cleaning regimes for all other areas within the food business. Follow the Australian Government cleaning advice for your cleaning and disinfecting procedures.
- Wash and sanitise all food preparation containers, utensils, chopping boards.
- When operating the Banned Drinker Register, handling or contact of the customer’s photo ID should be minimised and regular cleaning of the scanner’s surfaces should occur.
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.
Disposable vs reusable cutlery, crockery, food and beverage containers
There is currently no evidence to suggest there is any benefit in switching to disposable single use food and beverage containers, cutlery and crockery to reduce the transmission of coronavirus (COVID-19).
A food business may continue to use standard containers, cutlery and crockery with appropriate hygiene, cleaning and sanitation processes in place.
Food businesses may continue to accept reusable cups and containers provided by the customer with appropriate hygiene and sanitation processes in place.
Self-service cutlery and condiments
Food businesses should limit any unnecessary shared surface touching to avoid the risk of contamination.
Staff should provide the required amount of cutlery to people on the table or have staff hand over cutlery and condiments to limit self-service.
Self-service areas like buffets, accommodation breakfast bars and aviation club lounges should be well supervised and require the customer to use hand sanitiser pre-commencement of service.
Areas should be regularly monitored and cleaning protocols adhered to.
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.
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 an alcohol based solution immediately after handling these items.
Takeaway and delivery service
You need to ensure your food business complies with the requirements of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, including:
- ensuring appropriate packaging is used for takeaway
- exercising good hygiene practices when packaging food
- using an appropriate food transport vehicle
- maintaining temperature control of food during delivery.
You should advise your customers that food for takeaway should be consumed immediately or refrigerated and not left out of temperature control.
Physical distancing for takeaway and delivery
Measures should be in place to allow customers to maintain a distance of 1.5 metres between people when picking up takeaway and the use of ground markers indicating where to queue and stand should be considered.
For home deliveries, ways to assist with physical distancing include promoting cashless payments and for deliveries to be placed at the door and stepping back when the customer collects the food.
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 coronvirus (COVID-19) safety steps with patrons.
Provide updates on social media or via emails and provide signage and information at venues.
Encourage all your staff, volunteers and patrons to follow these guidelines in their daily life to keep our community safe.
Contact Environmental Health COVID-19 Compliance on 1800 095 646.
Further information on food safety and coronavirus (COVID-19) can be found on the Food Standards Australia New Zealand website.
Get COVID-19 information for workplaces on the Safe Work Australia website.