Reopening Food Businesses: The Requirements For Each Australian State

May 20, 2020

After extended closures to the public due to COVID-19, food businesses have finally been given the green light to offer dine-in services in most Australian states and territories. This is good news for food businesses such as restaurants and pubs, which have had to close their physical premises and switch to takeaway or home delivery methods. Reopenings can begin immediately in all states and territories, excluding Victoria. Food businesses in Victoria can begin providing dine-in service as of June 1.

Despite this good news, there are requirements that businesses must fulfill before they are allowed to provide dine-in service — and these requirements vary by state and territory. The following is a breakdown of how each state and territory is requiring food businesses handle the commencement of dine-in services:

Australian Capital Territory

The ACT Government has created a checklist that food businesses must complete and keep on hand, either physically or electronically. Food businesses must provide this checklist for inspection if requested by the local authorities. The checklist covers essential health and safety topics that all food businesses who are reopening their doors need to consider. These topics include: ensuring physical distancing, managing staff or customers who are displaying symptoms, cleaning and sanitising protocols, extra measures to take upon reopening and how to handle visitors such as delivery personnel and contractors.

New South Wales

In New South Wales (NSW) food businesses are permitted to reopen but must follow strict guidelines. There must be no more that 10 customers in the premises at one time, and 4 square metres must be maintained between each person, regardless if they are customers or staff. If a food business’ premises does not allow for 4 square metres between each person, then the amount of customers allowed within the premises must be reduced in order to achieve the proper physical distancing. The NSW Government has also provided examples of how to apply the 4 square metre rule.

Northern Territory

As of May 15, food businesses in the Northern Territory can now provide food and beverages to seated patrons. However, the Northern Territory Government has released a set of guidelines that all food businesses must follow upon reopening to the public. The Chief Health Officer (CHO) is requiring that all food businesses comply with the specific requirements listed in the Chief Health Officer Directions. Some of the requirements include not seating more than 10 customers at a table, providing hand sanitiser to all customers unless hand washing facilities are available, and completing an online checklist before reopening. Food businesses are required to learn and implement all of the requirements set out by the CHO and the Northern Territory Government.

Queensland

Queensland food businesses that are reopening and providing dine-in services must complete and sign a COVID Safe Checklist. Upon doing so, the checklist must be visibly displayed on the premises. It is important to acknowledge that while this checklist does not need to be submitted to governing bodies, local enforcement officers can enter a premises to check the completion of checklists at any time. This checklist covers all health and safety topics such as staff well-being, physical distancing, record keeping, hygiene protocols, cleaning practices and how to handle visitors to the business such as contractors.

South Australia

In South Australia, food businesses are currently only permitted to provide outdoor dining for customers. On the Government of South Australia website, specific requirements are listed for food businesses that choose (and are able) to provide outdoor dining at their premises. These requirements include, but are not limited to: ensuring a limit of 1 person per 4 square metres on the premises, permitting only a maximum of 10 patrons at one time and ensuring no alcohol is served or consumed on the premises. The Outdoor Dining fact sheet released by the government discusses the requirements and restrictions in detail.

Tasmania

In Tasmania, food businesses who wish to reopen to the public must develop a COVID-19 Safety Plan. This plan must be developed before reopening begins. WorkSafe Tasmania has created a COVID-19 Safe Workplaces Framework in order to help Tasmanian businesses, including food businesses, develop and implement a COVID-19 Safety Plan. The workplace guidelines for the hospitality industry provide an in-depth look at all of the requirements that must be achieved and standards that must be reached in order to safely reopen a food business to the public in Tasmania.

Victoria

Food businesses can reopen to the public as of Monday, June 1. The guidelines for food businesses reopening in Victoria is set to be released on Monday, May 25.

Western Australia

In Western Australia, all food businesses need to complete and implement a COVID Safety Plan. The Government of Western Australia has released a set of guidelines for food businesses that wish to begin opening their doors to the public and provide dine-in services. These guidelines include safety requirements such as restricting the amount of patrons to 20 people or less, maintaining at least 4 square metres per person and maintaining frequent cleaning and proper hygiene. The guidelines also include COVID Safety Plan requirements, hygiene training and physical distancing measures.