New public health advice for reopening businesses

Igym Salamander Bay’s Carly Taylor pushing the sled. Igym is just one business that has pivoted during the pandemic offering online classes to members but the team is keen to welcome their community of members back through the door. Photo: Marian Sampson.

 

FOR months it has been ‘business not as usual’.

Business owners have turned to online trade, click and collect and pivoting as the pandemic continues to offer challenges.

The next challenge for local businesses is reopening.

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COVID-19 has changed the landscape for businesses with staff being required to ensure public compliance of health orders such as signing in with QR Codes.

New public health advice released this week sets out how NSW businesses will continue to tackle COVID-19 as the state begins to reopen.

Hospitality, tourism, beauty and gyms all have significant challenges including limited numbers on the premises.

If a staff member tests positive, whether they are vaccinated or not vaccinated, 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.

Businesses must inform NSW Health if three or more employees test positive for COVID-19 in a seven-day period.

NSW Health guidelines will enable businesses to assess workplace risk if a COVID-19 case is identified and confirm actions to be taken.

Businesses can reduce the risk of closure or staff going into isolation by implementing rigorous COVID-19 Safety Plans.

Other proactive steps businesses can take include ensuring staff are vaccinated and implementing regular onsite testing programs for workers.

The new health orders include the fact that 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).

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

On the spot fines of $1,000 may apply to individuals for not complying, or for using fraudulent evidence of vaccination or check-in.

On the spot fines of $5,000 may apply to businesses for not complying with the Public Health Order vaccination requirements.

Further penalties may apply for significant breaches.

NSW Chief Health Officer Dr Kerry Chant said it is important to note that the new advice may be updated by NSW Health as case numbers and evidence changes.

“We will continue to do what we have done throughout this pandemic, which is to regularly update our advice, informed by experience, feedback, and emerging evidence.

“It is only in partnership that we can reopen in a safe way.”

With the region reopening to Greater Sydney on 11 October, businesses will need to be ready to deliver their products and services in compliance with the public health orders.

On a positive note there is high consumer confidence and if spending after the last lockdown is any indication businesses can expect a welcome increase in traffic as we navigate to a new way of life with COVID.

 

By Marian SAMPSON

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