At the start of the new year, the New South Wales government has implemented a range of COVID-19 restrictions and business requirements in order to help stop the spread of COVID-19. It's essential that food businesses know exactly what is required of them and what rules they need to follow at this time. Doing so ensures that businesses remain compliant and help reduce the growing cases of COVID-19.
Here's the latest information on what NSW businesses need to know:
New COVID-19 restrictions
Greater Sydney/Southern zone of Northern Beaches
As of January 3, COVID-19 restrictions have been increased in the Greater Sydney area, including Wollongong, Central Coast and Blue Mountains which include mandatory face masks for certain indoor premises. Some of the indoor premises where face masks are required include:
- shopping malls
- retail stores
- hospitality venues
Compliance with mandatory face masks starts from Monday, January 4 and there will be $200 fines for non-compliance.
Northern zone of Northern Beaches
There are different restrictions that have been put in place for the northern zone of the Northern Beaches. In the northern zone, non-essential businesses must remain closed at this time. These restrictions are to remain in effect until at least January 9.
Read the press release from the NSW government for more information on the COVID-19 restrictions in these areas.
Mandatory face masks
With face masks now mandatory in certain NSW businesses, knowing key information about the usage of face masks is extremely important.
When to use face masks
In Greater Sydney, face masks are mandatory for all staff working in food retail and food service businesses. This also applies to food businesses that are only providing take-away or delivery services as this time. This helps protect all staff and customers from transmitting or contracting COVID-19 from each other. Face masks must also be worn by customers in order to protect staff and other customers from potential COVID-19 exposure.
How to use face masks
It is extremely important to use and dispose of face masks appropriately. If they are not worn and disposed of properly, contamination and infection can occur. Follow these steps:
- Before putting on a face mask, clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- Cover your mouth and nose with the face mask and make sure there are no gaps between your face and the mask.
- Avoid touching the face mask while using it; if you do, clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
- Replace the face mask with a new one as soon as it is damp and do not reuse single-use masks.
- Remove the face mask from behind (do not touch the front of the mask).
- Discard used face masks immediately in a closed bin
- Clean hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water after disposing of a used face mask.
The different types of face masks
Single-use face masks
- usually made of a non-woven polypropylene layer
- must only be worn once and then disposed of immediately once they become moist or contaminated
- can be bought in bulk packages
- be sure to purchase from a reputable supplier
The NSW government is warning of fake face masks that are now entering the Australian market due to high demand for single-use face masks or ‘surgical masks’. Ensure that there are no holes or valves in the face mask as that means it will not prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Certain workers, such as those who work with the elderly or in health care situations, should only wear medical grade face masks that are compliant. Masks that meet the Australian Standard (AS/NZS 1716:2012) or international equivalent:
- have the manufacturers name, trademark or trade name on the mask
- are certified by an independent body such as SAI Global, and have their licence number marked on the packaging
- are certified by the US National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), if from the United States of America
Reusable cloth face masks
- should have three layers of fabric (outer layer should be water-resistant polyester or polypropylene fabric. The middle layer and the inner layer should be high-grade cotton or polycotton)
- become ineffective once they are damp
- must be replaced with a new one when they become contaminated or damp
- multiples are needed
- must be washed at 60°C/140°F or above and dried hygienically after use
- reuse without washing can lead to self-contamination and infection
- simple, transparent screens
- usually made of plastic
- should cover the sides of the face and below the chin
- should only be worn in combination with a face mask
- not considered an alternative to face masks when used on their own
Bandanas and scarves
- New South Wales government has stated that scarves and bandanas are not acceptable forms of face coverings
- do not offer the same protection as a well-fitted face mask
- often worn over and over again without being washed, which poses an infection risk
QR code requirements for businesses
As of January 1, all hospitality venues and hairdressers are required to use the NSW government's QR code system and have a Service NSW QR code. This means that for these businesses, customers will need to have the Service NSW app installed on their smartphone in order to record their visit to the premises. Any of these businesses that do not comply will face a fine of $5,000.
What is the Service NSW QR code system?
The Service NSW QR code system is a free QR code system provided by the NSW government. When a customer comes into a business using this code system, they must have the Service NSW app installed on their smartphone. When a customer scans the QR code with their smartphone, they are then taken to the check-in on the app. A staff member is then required to verify that the customer successfully checked in to the location.
- with this system, businesses do not have to store customers' information on the premises
- when a customer scans a business's QR code, the system sends the customer's information directly to Service NSW
- NSW Health has direct access to the information if it is needed in relation to a COVID-19 outbreak
- the system helps contact tracers do their job
- the system stops people from giving inaccurate or incomplete information which makes contact tracing difficult
Visit the NSW government's QR codes information page for more information on the code system and how to set up your business's QR code.
You can stay up-to-date with all the latest NSW COVID-19 restrictions and information by visiting the NSW government website.