COVID-19 FAQs for Business

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Help for businesses

Check out a list of useful links and resources in this COVID-19 fact sheet for businesses or view frequently asked questions below.

The Australian Government is supporting Australian businesses to manage cash flow challenges and retain employees during the Coronavirus health crisis. For more information go to https://treasury.gov.au/coronavirus/businesses.

If you are a food business, please read the City's Frequently Asked Questions for food businesses.

Supermarkets provide an essential service and play a critical role in our community during this time. Here are some practical tips to implement in the store to help reduce the spread of the COVID-19 virus:

  • Exclude workers with cold/flu-like symptoms from work
  • Increase general cleaning in-store using anti-viral products
  • Increase cleaning of high touch area with alcohol-based disinfectants
  • Encourage customers to use tap and pay wherever possible
  • Limit customers to prevent overcrowding
  • Provide floor markings to assist customers in social distancing at checkouts
  • Provide hand sanitiser for staff and customers
  • Provide gloves for staff
  • Provide wipes for trolley and basket handles
  • Use every second register wherever possible

Frequently asked questions

As of March 23, 2020 and March 25, 2020, all declared non-essential business activity was required to cease.

This means cafes, restaurants, bars, pubs and other licenced venues are required to close to the public. However, currently food businesses are allowed to provide takeaway meals and food delivery services as well as operate bottleshops.

The State and Federal Government have indicated that further restrictions on non-essential services and social distancing measures are to be expected.

For the most up-to-date information on restrictions, A full list of directions from the Chief Health Officer (CHO) will be available at https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/state-emergency

Businesses seeking advice about whether they are affected can also call the Business Victoria coronavirus hotline on 13 22 15.

Trade is restricted to offering takeaway food, home delivery services and bottleshops. No members of the public should gather at your premises. Outdoor dining is not permitted.

If you are offering takeaway and delivery you need to adhere to public distancing rules of four square metres per person (no more than 2 people in an enclosed space) This also includes adhering to the distancing rules of 1.5 metres within the workplace and also when providing take-away or delivering to customers.

Customers should be encouraged to pay online or via a cardless transaction. Due to the increased risk of transmission, accepting cash is not encouraged. If you are accepting cash, consider what additional hand hygiene practices are required to best protect your staff and the public.

If your food business is currently registered under the Food Act 1984, there are no further registration or administrative requirements needed for you to provide takeaway or home delivery services.

If providing takeaway or home delivery service isn’t standard practice for your business, consider the following;

  • Read your Food Safety Program, specifically the relevant sections for storing, packaging food, and transporting food
  • The food must be appropriately packaged. You may need to source additional packaging to ensure the food can be appropriately packaged
  • The food must be stored appropriately prior to collection from the customer. You may need to provide a suitable location to ensure the food is stored appropriately, such as a designated location, bain marie or refrigerator
  • You must be able to meet customer demands for allergy management. Follow the advice in your Food Safety Program regarding food allergens and intolerances

If your food business wishes to increase the food handling activities (e.g preparing or cooking higher risk foods than what your current food registration allows) a change of classification process will be required, and you will need to contact Environmental Health to discuss this further.

For further guidance on home deliveries see the below link:

https://www2.health.vic.gov.au/public-health/food-safety/food-businesses/food-how-to-keep-it-safe/food-business-home-delivery-guide

For more specific information please visit the Food Standards website: www.foodstandards.gov.au/code/Pages/default.aspx (Click on the green tab labelled Chapter 3: Food Safety Standards - Australia Only)

Ensure that any takeaway or home delivery methods allow for strict social-distancing, i.e. ensure your staff and members of the public remain at least 1.5m away from each other at all times and do not allow multiple members of the public into your premises at the same time. Clean any surfaces that are handled, i.e. EFTPOS machines or door handles.

Accepting reusable containers i.e. KeepCups brought in by customers could potentially mean an increased risk to your business at this time.  If you choose to accept reusable containers at this time you should consider how you can ensure that food handler and contact surface hygiene are not impacted or compromised.

All food businesses must continue to follow food safety and food handling guidelines and all staff must continue to practice good hand hygiene. As normal, clean and sanitise food preparation surfaces. Frequently clean other high touch surfaces such as door handles, light switches, tabletops and benches, these should be cleaned regularly with detergent solution and an anti-viral disinfectant.

Hand hygiene is very effective at limiting transmission of COVID-19, a food handler must already wash their hands:

  • Before starting work
  • Before handling cooked or ready-to-eat food
  • After handling or preparing food
  • After handling waste
  • After cleaning duties
  • After using the toilet
  • After blowing nose, sneezing or coughing
  • After eating drinking or smoking
  • After handling money

Hand-washing must be undertaken with soap and running water for 20 seconds. Cough or sneeze into a disposable tissue or into the crook of your arm (not into your hand) and wash your hands thoroughly after disposing of tissues.

The Department of Health and Human Services Victoria (DHHS) has put together comprehensive information on Coronavirus (COVID-19), including symptoms, please visit https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/victorian-public-coronavirus-disease-covid-19

Staff members who are unwell should not come to work or should be sent home immediately. If they suspect they have COVID-19 they should contact the dedicated hotline on 1800 675 398 (24 hours, 7 days) and seek advice.

Staff members who have a suspected case of COVID-19 should not be at work. If a staff member is diagnosed with a confirmed case of COVID-19 they will be provided with information from the DHHS and their healthcare professional and will need to self-isolate for at least 14 days.

Information for confirmed cases can be found at https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/health-services-and-general-practitioners-coronavirus-disease-covid-19 under ‘Factsheets for patients’.

All other staff at your business who have had close contact with this staff member should contact the dedicated hotline on 1800 675 398 (24 hours, 7 days) and seek advice. All close contacts of confirmed cases will be contacted by the DHHS and told to self-quarantine for 14 days.

The self-quarantine requirements can be found at https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/victorian-public-coronavirus-disease-covid-19#u-self-quarantineu

All close contacts of confirmed cases will be contacted by the DHHS and told to home quarantine for 14 days.

If your business has a staff member that has been diagnosed with COVID-19, please call the dedicated hotline on 1800 675 398 (24 hours, 7 days) and seek advice. You will need to undertake a thorough clean of all surfaces, areas and equipment where the staff member has been.

The DHHS has developed comprehensive cleaning guidelines for COVID-19 which can be found at: https://www.health.gov.au/sites/default/files/documents/2020/03/environmental-cleaning-and-disinfection-principles-for-covid-19.pdf

Your staff member cannot end isolation and return to work until they meet relevant requirements. The Department of Health and Human Services will determine when a confirmed case no longer requires to be isolated. To find out more, they should call the dedicated hotline on 1800 675 398.

The City of Greater Bendigo has activated its pandemic plan which includes installing a Pandemic Coordinator to coordinate a cohesive Coronavirus (COVID-19) response by the City. The City is following its Pandemic plan and all government advice as it is updated. Businesses should follow the advice provided on the DHHS website https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/coronavirus and plan for further restrictions on their business. The City of Greater Bendigo will endeavour to provide advice and support as new restrictions are announced.

  • Remove unpackaged self-serve food that cannot be washed prior to consumption i.e. naked bread
  • Remove self-serve items i.e. cutlery, condiments, straws, cups. Instead, be in control of the distribution of these items
  • Clean and disinfect surfaces commonly touched by customers regularly i.e. self-serve registers, shopping trolley/basket handles
  • Be aware of the risks associated with handling money. Either have a dedicated money handler or wash hands/change gloves, between handling money and handling food
  • Reduce customers waiting or sitting in close proximity to each other, particularly if you have a small shop area

‘Close contact’ means having face-to-face contact for more than 15 minutes with someone who has a confirmed case of COVID-19 – or alternatively sharing a closed space with them for more than two hours (i.e. being in the same room or office for two hours or more).

We would love to support you

Contact one of our friendly Business Help Desk staff on 03 5434 6000 or email [email protected]

Be.Bendigo, Greater Bendigo's Business Council, is also focused on helping local businesses respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and is here to assist. For more information, phone 03 5442 7816 or visit https://bebendigo.com.au/  

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