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NSW reopening: Health rules and information for small businesses

Businesses are required to keep their premises safe and minimise the risk of infection  in the workplace. 

Cafe waitress checking customer signing in

The NSW Government has announced public health measures for business and individuals to come into force at the expected reopening date of Monday 11 October (following the achievement of  the 70% vaccination target).

Vaccination compliance and obligations for businesses

Businesses will be responsible for taking reasonable measures to stop unvaccinated people entering premises. For example, having prominent signs stating requirements, Service NSW QR codes, staff checking vaccination status upon entry and only accepting valid forms of evidence of vaccination.

Authorised officers will monitor businesses re-opening, particularly those that have vaccination requirements, for example hospitality, retail, gyms, and personal services (e.g. hair, beauty).

Does my business require proof of full COVID-19 vaccination? Link directly to Does my business require proof of full COVID-19 vaccination?

People aged 16 years and over will only be allowed entry into some venues or settings if fully vaccinated, along with people with exemptions. In some venues, children under 16 will have to be accompanied by a fully vaccinated member of their household to enter. This includes hospitality venues, non-critical retail stores, personal services, sporting, recreation and entertainment facilities and events. Critical retail such as supermarkets and pharmacies will still be accessible to those not fully vaccinated.

Businesses must take reasonable steps to ensure that: 

  • A person who is over 16 years of age who is not fully vaccinated is not on the premises
  • Any person who is under 16 years old and is not fully vaccinated is only on the premises if they are accompanied by a fully vaccinated member of their household or they are on the premises for work.

These rules apply to staff at your premises as well as customers.  

Reasonable steps include: 

  • Display vaccination rules from NSW Health in a prominent position, such as the entrance to your premises  
  • Ask to see a person’s vaccination evidence, or for a child under 16 years of age, evidence of their name and address.

For more information, see Proof of COVID-19 vaccination

What premises require staff to be fully vaccinated for opening at 70% Link directly to What premises require staff to be fully vaccinated for opening at 70%

From 11 October 2021, staff over 16 years of age are required to be fully vaccinated (i.e. 2 doses of a COVID-19 vaccine) to enter the following premises:

  • Entertainment facilities
  • Major recreation facilities
  • Hospitality venues
  • Places of public worship
  •  Any premises where a wedding, funeral or memorial service (other than small services with 10 or less 
  • people) or gathering following those services is being held
  • Business premises that are hairdressers, spas, nail salons, beauty salons, waxing salons, tanning 
  • salons, tattoo parlours or massage parlours
  • Indoor recreation facilities
  • Public swimming pools
  • Information and education facilities
  • Retail premises (other than critical retail premises which are a defined list of premises like supermarkets 
  • and grocery shops, chemists and pharmacies etc.)
  • Business premises that are auction houses
  • Business premises that are betting agencies
  • Gaming lounges
  • Markets that do not predominantly sell food
  • Properties operated by the National Trust, or the Historic Houses Trust

For more information see, Vaccination rules for businesses, their staff and customers.

What is a considered a critical retail premises and what are the rules? Link directly to What is a considered a critical retail premises and what are the rules?

Anyone is allowed to enter critical retail premises. Critical retail premises are: 

  • Supermarkets 
  • Grocery stores 
  • Shops that mainly sell food or drinks, like butchers, bakeries, fruit and vegetable shops, and delicatessens 
  • Kiosks 
  • Petrol stations 
  • Banks and financial institutions 
  • Hardware and building supplies 
  • Landscaping material supplies 
  • Rural supplies 
  • Shops that mainly sell: 
    • Pet supplies 
    • Newspapers, magazines or stationery (for example, newsagents) 
    • Office supplies 
    • Maternity or baby supplies 
    • Medical or pharmaceutical supplies (for example, chemists) 
    • Alcohol (for example, liquor stores) 
  • Post offices 
  • Garden centres and plant nurseries 
  • Vehicle hire businesses but not businesses that sell vehicles 
  • Shops that mainly carry out repairs of mobile phones 
  • Laundromats and drycleaners. 

You do not have to check vaccination evidence if you are the occupier of these premises. 

For more information, see Vaccination rules for businesses, their staff and customers

What are the rules for certain businesses in regional and rural NSW  Link directly to What are the rules for certain businesses in regional and rural NSW 

Until 1 November 2021 any of the above premises that are outside Greater Sydney can allow staff working on the premises who also reside outside of Greater Sydney to enter with only 1 dose of a COVID-19 vaccine instead of the requirement for 2 doses that applies in Greater Sydney. 

Greater Sydney means:

  • the Greater Sydney Region within the meaning of the Greater Sydney Commission Act 2015,
  • the Central Coast local government area,
  • the City of Shellharbour local government area,
  • the City of Wollongong local government area

Fore more information, see Vaccination rules for businesses, their staff and customers

What is sufficient proof of full COVID-19 vaccination? Link directly to What is sufficient proof of full COVID-19 vaccination?

A digital or printed certificate of vaccination will be required for staff, contractors and customers to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination:

  • A COVID-19 digital certificate is available through the Express Plus Medicare mobile app or the Medicare online account through myGov. The digital certificate will also be made available to be added to the Service NSW app and shared as part of a QR check-in, or to a smartphone wallet or similar.
  • The COVID-19 digital certificate or an immunisation history statement can be printed from your Medicare online account through myGov.

For people with a medical exemption, a proof of exemption for medical reasons can be added by their GP to their immunisation history.

Penalties may apply for persons making or presenting a fake form of proof of vaccination.

For more information, see Proof of COVID-19 vaccination

What if a customer doesn't want to provide proof of vaccination? Link directly to What if a customer doesn't want to provide proof of vaccination?

Please be aware that a person may not wish to show you their vaccination evidence.

If you do not believe that a person is fully vaccinated, you can ask them to leave. If the person refuses to leave, you can notify police. 

Anyone who is required to be vaccinated to be at a business premises must produce their vaccination evidence to a police officer or authorised officer if requested. For children under 16, they must produce evidence of their name and address to a police officer or authorised officer. 

For more information see, Vaccination rules for businesses, their staff and customers.

What if my business is only open to the fully vaccinated? Link directly to What if my business is only open to the fully vaccinated?

Businesses which are open only to the vaccinated are responsible for taking reasonable steps to prevent unvaccinated people entering their premises. These include: having prominent signs stating the requirements, using Service NSW QR codes, staff checking vaccination status upon entry and only accepting valid forms of evidence of vaccination, or medical exemption. For more information, see COVID-19 Vaccination and Your Business

Can I refuse unvaccinated customers entry to my premises? Link directly to Can I refuse unvaccinated customers entry to my premises?

Public Health Orders may require certain businesses to take reasonable steps to prevent unvaccinated patrons entering their premises. Exemptions will apply to persons who cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons or because of their age to ensure that they are treated fairly. 

Anyone who is required to be vaccinated to be at a business premises must produce their vaccination evidence to a police officer or authorised officer if requested. For children under 16, they must produce evidence of their name and address to a police officer or authorised officer. 

For more information see, Vaccination rules for businesses, their staff and customers.

Does mandatory check-in still apply? Link directly to Does mandatory check-in still apply?

Yes, checking-in is required by staff and customers when they enter certain premises. Read more information on mandatory check-in rules and QR code requirements.

Do penalties apply if my business doesn’t comply with vaccination advice? Link directly to Do penalties apply if my business doesn’t comply with vaccination advice?

Authorised officers will monitor businesses re-opening, particularly those that have vaccination requirements, for example hospitality, retail, gyms and personal services (e.g. hair, beauty).

Penalties may apply for individuals and businesses who don’t comply.

  • Individuals: On the spot fines of $1,000 may apply for not complying, or for using fraudulent evidence of vaccination or check-in.
  • Businesses: On the spot fines of $5,000 may apply for not complying with the Public Health Order vaccination requirements.

Further penalties including closure of businesses, and higher fines for individuals and businesses may apply for significant breaches.

For more information, see Vaccination compliance for businesses

Can I ask my staff for proof of vaccination? Link directly to Can I ask my staff for proof of vaccination?

Employers can generally ask their employees to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or evidence of a medical contraindication to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine, if collecting such information is reasonably necessary for managing work, health and safety risks. For more information, see COVID-19 vaccinations and your business

 

Can I direct my employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19? Link directly to Can I direct my employees to get vaccinated against COVID-19?

You can direct your employees to get vaccinated where mandatory vaccination is included in a Public Health Order or it would be lawful and reasonable to do so for work health and safety reasons. For more information on when a direction will be reasonable, see COVID-19 vaccinations and your business

What if a staff member tests positive? Link directly to What if a staff member tests positive?

If a staff member tests positive, whether they are vaccinated or unvaccinated, they must self-isolate for 14 days and follow the advice from NSW Health. Businesses will refer to their COVID-19 Safety Plan and risk assessment approach for further instructions on notifying other staff. For more information, see Contact tracing and isolation rules for businesses

What if multiple staff members test positive? Link directly to What if multiple staff members test positive?

Businesses must inform NSW Health if three or more employees test positive for COVID-19 in a seven-day period. For more information, see Contact tracing and isolation rules for businesses

What is a close contact? Link directly to What is a close contact?

Close contacts in the community will include those in the same household as positive cases and close social contacts of positive cases, even if fully vaccinated. Anyone may also be assessed as a being a close contact following a risk assessment, including at workplaces, high-risk settings, such as healthcare and aged care, and other specific settings such as schools and childcare centres, or where an outbreak has been identified. For more information, see Contact tracing and isolation rules for businesses

What if my business has been linked to COVID-19 cases? Can I remain open if a  COVID positive person visits my business? Link directly to What if my business has been linked to COVID-19 cases? Can I remain open if a  COVID positive person visits my business?

NSW Health guidelines will enable businesses to assess workplace risk if a COVID-19 case is identified and confirm actions to be taken. The Service NSW QR Code check-in system will remain in place and will be used to notify people who were in the same venue as a positive case. Encourage your customers to follow the advice given to them by NSW Health. For further information on the requirements, including the deep cleaning standards, read the NSW Government’s guidance.

Where can I find a COVID-19 Safety Plan template? Link directly to Where can I find a COVID-19 Safety Plan template?

Businesses can reduce the risk of closure or staff going into isolation by implementing rigorous COVID-19 Safety Plans. Find a COVID-19 Safety Plan template for your industry.

What else can I do to reduce interruptions to my business? Link directly to What else can I do to reduce interruptions to my business?

Other proactive steps businesses can take include:

  • ensuring staff are vaccinated,
  • implementing regular onsite testing programs for workers
  • ensuring all workers and patrons check in via the Service NSW QR code
  •  maintaining COVID safe behaviours including mask wearing, physical distancing and indoor capacity limits (1 person per 4sqm).

For more information on when a direction will be reasonable, see COVID-19 vaccinations and your business.

Where can I download COVID-Safe signs, posters and stickers for my business? Link directly to Where can I download COVID-Safe signs, posters and stickers for my business?

The Government has released a COVID-Safe business toolkit of signs, posters and stickers to help businesses and other organisations communicate the accepted behaviours and standards of etiquette that will help protect the community and limit the spread of COVID-19.

A selection of posters have been translated into Arabic, Chinese (traditional and simplified), Greek, Hindi, and Vietnamese.

Download COVID-Safe posters and signage for business.