Australian food businesses in most states and territories are now permitted to conduct dine-in services on their premises — a move that brings hope to the restaurant industry after significant challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To date, food businesses in all states and territories, except Victoria, can begin reopening to the public. (Food businesses in Victoria can begin providing dine-in service as of June 1.)
Many food businesses such as restaurants and pubs, which thrive and survive on serving seated patrons, hope to be able to get back to a sense of ‘business as usual’. However, food businesses must achieve certain requirements before they are permitted to conduct dine-in service on their premises. These requirements vary by state and territory, so it is imperative that all food businesses know what is required of them before opening their doors to the public.
Australian Capital Territory
For food businesses in Australian Capital Territory, there is a checklist that must be completed. This checklist has been provided by the ACT Government, and it must be kept on hand — either digitally or physically on the premises of the food business. Should a food business be requested by local enforcement officers to produce the checklist, they must do so. Topics covered in this essential checklist include: maintenance of physical distancing, management of staff and customers displaying symptoms, proper cleaning and sanitising, how to handle visitors such as contractors and any extra safety measures that need to be taken.
New South Wales
As of May 15, food businesses in New South Wales (NSW) are permitted to reopen but must follow strict guidelines. These guidelines are provided on the government website and include not allowing more that 10 customers in the premises at one time, and ensuring that 4 square metres is maintained between each person. If the proper physical distancing of 4 square metres between each person cannot be achieved, then the amount of customers allowed within the premises must be reduced. The NSW Government has also provided examples of how to apply the 4 square metre rule.
Food businesses in the Northern Territory can now provide food and beverages to seated patrons. In order to do this, food businesses must follow a set of strict guidelines released by the Northern Territory Government. All food businesses must comply with the specific requirements listed in the Chief Health Officer Directions. Food businesses are required to learn and implement all of the requirements set out by the CHO and the Northern Territory Government.
As of May 16, food businesses in Queensland are able to reopen to the public. However, they must complete and sign a COVID Safe Checklist before starting dine-in services again. This checklist must be displayed on the premises and local enforcement officers may ask to see completed checklists at any time. Food businesses must also limit their customers to no more than 10 people at a time, unless they are an outback restaurant in which case they can allow up to 20 patrons at one time.
For food businesses in South Australia, dine-in services can only be conducted outdoors. On the Government of South Australia website, specific requirements for doing so 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 South Australia Government also released an Outdoor Dining fact sheet which provides more information about conducting dining service outdoors.
Tasmanian food businesses must develop a COVID-19 Safety Plan in order to conduct dine-in service. This plan must be developed before reopening begins. WorkSafe Tasmania has created a COVID-19 Safe Workplaces Framework as well as workplace guidelines for the hospitality industry to help food businesses reopen safely and properly.
This week, the Government of Victoria released a timeline for the reopening of food businesses. Restaurants, cafes and pubs will be allowed to open for up to 20 customers as of June 1. The guidelines for food businesses reopening in Victoria is set to be released on Monday, May 25.
The completion and implementation of a COVID Safety Plan is required for all food businesses reopening in Western Australia. The Government of Western Australia has released a set of guidelines for food businesses which includes 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.
It is essential that all food businesses throughout Australia take the time to learn what is required of them based on their state or territory. These requirements are essential to preventing the spread of COVID-19, and following the guidelines will help keep customers and staff safe.