COVID-19 and your business


Last updated: 20 Sep 2021 11:47am

2021 COVID-19 Support Package

The NSW Government will provide financial assistance, support measures and tax relief to help businesses and people across the state impacted by the current COVID-19 restrictions. For full details, visit: https://www.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/2021-covid-19-support-package

Business Concierge - Support for your business

NSW Government has a free Business Concierge service to provide guidance to businesses. To book a session with the Business Concierge, call Service NSW on 137788, or visit the Business Concierge webpage.

See the NSW Government page for a range of mental health services that can support you and your employees.

Small business 'Prepare for the unexpected' business continuity plan

The NSW Small Business Commission has a 'Prepare for the unexpected' business continuity plan for small business to prepare for unexpected risks of disruption to their business. This resource includes a pandemic check list.

Now is a good time to consider how your business will continue to operate if something unexpected happens. Planning is important if you have animals or perishable goods.

Make your workplace COVID Safe

Show your commitment to COVID Safety and help keep our industry and communities safe.

Work Safe Australia have a range of resources to help workplace implement COVID Safety measures.

NSW Health have a variety of posters, factsheets, digital resources and translated resources on COVID-19.

Visit the COVID Safe businesses webpage for more information.

Mandatory masks

As part of the state-wide stay at home orders, you must wear a face mask at indoor and outdoor, non-residential premises in NSW. Primary industry businesses must follow these rules.

A person may remove their mask if they are:

  • eating or drinking
  • communicating with another person who is deaf or hard of hearing
  • at work and the nature of the work makes the wearing of a fitted face covering a risk to the person's, or another persons' health and safety, or where clear enunciation or visibility of your mouth is essential
  • asked to remove their mask for identity purposes
  • in an emergency situation
  • doing exercise
    • in one of the 12 LGAs of concern a mask can be removed if you are doing strenuous exercise
    • in other areas of the state, a mask can be removed if doing other types of physical exercise
  • working alone in an office (until another person enters)
  • in a vehicle alone or with another person from your household.

Activities such as sheep shearing, or heavy lifting on a commercial fishing vessel, would be forms of strenuous exercise, and therefore, it is permissible to remove a mask when doing these activities. If a worker is alone in a farm environment, it is also permissible to not wear a mask. Workers must carry a mask with them at all times, even when working alone.

Travelling for work while on duty

Primary industries workers in regional NSW, Greater Sydney Area or from Local Government Areas of Concern, are permitted to travel in a work vehicle, while on duty, with other workers as long as they:

  • Wear a mask at all times
  • The business must have a COVID Business Safety Plan in place
  • Carry a travel declaration if required and follow any vaccination or testing requirements required under the Public Health Order, or the workplaces COVID Safety Plan

Carpooling of workers to and from their residence to worksite

An exemption has been granted under Clause 7.2 of the Public Health (COVID-19 Additional Restrictions for Delta Outbreak) Order (No 2) 2021 which enables the carpooling of workers in regional NSW where the employer has made arrangements to transport staff to and from a workplace and the workers place of residence. 

The exemption applies to workers who:

  • Reside in a regional NSW area
  • Have not been in Greater Sydney in the previous 14 days
  • Have had at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, or are booked to have at least their first dose as soon as possible and not later than 10 September 2021
  • Travel in a vehicle arranged by an employer to transport staff to and from a workplace and the workers residence

The following rules apply when travelling:

  • The vehicle being used must have a Service NSW QR code which is to be used by the workers upon entering the vehicle
  • Passengers must wear a face mask at all times when in the vehicle
  • When reasonably practicable, windows in the vehicle must be down and the ventilation system must be set to circulate air from outside the vehicle

Businesses with staff who carpool need to do the following:

  • Ensure your COVID-19 Business Safety Plan identifies carpooling and the associated measures you have in place to manage this risk in your workplace
  • Ensure that all vehicles used have a QR code in place and that staff are fully aware of the rules
  • Provide workers with evidence of their employment and the workplace carpooling arrangements you have made
  • Ensure your staff have at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine before the 10 September 2021
  • Ensure staff have access to face masks and hygiene products, including in the vehicles used for carpooling

This exemption does not apply to workers in the Greater Sydney, Blue Mountains or Wollongong areas.

Businesses who are preparing for the movement of workers associated with the peak season of activity for primary industries, and the utilisation of carpooling of workers, are strongly encouraged to promote vaccination to minimise the risk to their workers, community, and business continuity.

Vaccinations

Check your eligibility for a COVID-19 Vaccination and find out more information about the rollout at NSW Government COVID-19 vaccination in NSW

The NSW Government has developed a COVID vaccine information pack for businesses to help encourage increase vaccination rates.

There are vaccination requirements in place for certain workers in NSW. Make sure you know what applies to your business and workers.

Service NSW QR code

Business and organisations registered as COVID safe can access their NSW Government QR code and other customised resources online at NSW Government QR code and business resources.

Under the Public Health (COVID-19 Gathering Restrictions) Order (No 2) Amendment Order (No 2) 2021, farms are not required to have mandatory QR codes. Primary industry businesses are strongly encouraged to register as COVID Safe and use QR Codes where possible.

For the purposes of on-farm activities such as bull/ram sales, shearing, harvest and other activities where you have larger on-farm visitors than usual, primary producers need to

  1. Keep a register of visitors. The organisers can choose how they do this, i.e QR code, sheet of paper, etc.
  2. This list needs to be made available to NSW Health, if requested, within 4 hours either as an excel or csv file to support contract tracing. If they are using a QR code this information is already provided.
  3. Hold this information for 4 weeks.
  4. The business is encouraged to complete an Agriculture COVID Safety Plan to ensure they meet all COVID safety requirements.

Agricultural contracting businesses are required to have a QR Code and COVID Business Safety Plan.

Agricultural shows and agricultural field days are required to have mandatory QR Code and COVID Safety Plan.

Guidance for businesses with linked COVID-19 cases

For further information on guidance when you business is linked with a COVID-19 case, visit Guidance for businesses with linked COVID-19 cases | NSW Government

There are two ways a business might be informed of a COVID-19 link:

  • being notified by public health authorities
  • an employee or other contractor notifying that they have been diagnosed.

Once you have been notified of a COVID-19 link to your business:

  1. You will be put in contact with your local Public Health Unit.
  2. Your Public Health Unit will advise you on the type of contact tracing needed.
  3. You will be required to advise staff, visitors, contractors and customers of the situation.
  4. You will be informed of any infection control measures you need to take.

Businesses/premises do not necessarily have to close after a case has been notified. This will depend on:

  • the premises being appropriately cleaned.
  • the Public Health Unit being satisfied that there is no ongoing risk
  • business access to available staff.

The privacy and confidentiality of the person diagnosed must be maintained.

Employers or businesses with diagnosed employees, or otherwise concerned they may be linked to a COVID-19 case, should seek advice from their local Public Health Unit (PHU) by calling 1300 066 055.

If an employee becomes sick at work, please ring the National COVID-19 hotline on 1800 020 080 and follow the advice of health officials.

If you are an employer in NSW, you must notify SafeWork NSW as soon as possible where a risk from exposure to COVID-19 has occurred.

As an employer in NSW you must also inform your workers compensation insurer of any workplace injury or serious illness, you become aware of (including COVID-19) within 48 hours.

Food processing and manufacturing businesses

The Workplace Health Management Plan Template (PDF, 393.67 KB) has been developed to help employers and employees understand how to work safely during a human health event that impacts the workforce, such as COVID-19

Abattoirs and the meat processing industry

NSW Health in consultation with SafeWork NSW and the NSW Department of Primary Industries developed an Incident Action Plan (IAP) for the meat processing industry to raise preparedness in the event of an outbreak.

The Incident Action Plan and Guideline provides the detail about how business can prepare for and prevent an outbreak of COVID-19 and how a local health authority will engage with the business.

Meat processing facility Incident Action Plan for a confirmed case of COVID-19 

Positive COVID-19 cases are reported directly to local Public Health Units (PHUs), who will follow up with the initial confirmed case and if it includes a workplace regarding staff or patrons, contact the premises.

The Animal Welfare and Business Continuity Self-Assessment (PDF, 281.93 KB) and the Workplace Health Management Plan Template (PDF, 393.67 KB), are available to  support the meat processing sector.

Also visit the NSW Government website for resources and guidance for abattoirs and the meat processing industry to help create and maintain a safe working environment for staff, customers and community.

This information may change regularly, and you should review frequently to ensure your business is complying.

Food Safety

NSW Food Authority has information and training regarding food safety and COVID-19.

You can visit the Food Authority website, call the Helpline on 1300 552 406 or email food.contact@dpi.nsw.gov.au.

Workforce

Quarantine Fees for Pacific Labour Scheme (PLS) and Seasonal Worker Program (SWP) employees

For information regarding subsidised hotel quarantine for PLS and SWP employees visit the NSW Government’s Quarantine page.

Visas, Pacific Labour Scheme and Seasonal Workers Program

Department of Home Affairs have a range of resources and information to assist agricultural employers with immigration related queries. This includes information on the Pacific Labour Scheme and Seasonal Worker Program.

Help Harvest NSW

Help Harvest is an initiative to help people find seasonal employment opportunities with farm producers and agribusiness during COVID-19.

General Information

Beekeepers

Beekeepers who are a registered business can conduct their business in accordance with the Public Health Order, as a reasonable excuse to leave home.  Businesses should:

  • Have a COVID Business Safety Plan and ensure your workers follow this when on duty.
  • Whilst travelling outside of the restricted movement areas, only stop for essential reasons such as rest stops, meal breaks, fuel, necessary supplies, or an emergency, and wear a mask while travelling.
  • Follow all requirements for workers moving from restricted movement areas and if from the Greater Sydney Area, obtain any required permits for travel.

Bee-keepers who provide swarm removal services, are able to undertake this task as it provides an important public health service. You should travel with evidence of the request to remove a swarm, including the address you are travelling to.

Can saleyards, food and fibre auctions and on-farm livestock sales operate?

Public places that operate for the purposes of an auction that is for food supply, livestock, fibre or crops can be open to members of the public. Auctions on-farm for the purposes of selling livestock are also permitted. All sites must have a COVID Safety Plan and follow rules in place at that time. Attendees to auctions must follow the safety measures in place by the auction, or site operator.

It is expected that COVID-19 management requirements are adhered to by businesses conducting the auction as well as auction participants:

  • Businesses conducting an auction must have a COVID Business Safety Plan, the business registered as COVID Safe with this plan implemented at all times
  • Consider making participants pre-register to control numbers and manage risks
  • Auction participants must follow mask wearing rules which currently includes both indoor and outdoor workplaces, and that access to hygiene and cleaning is provided
  • Auction participants must follow physical  distancing at all times, or follow appropriate gathering square meter rules for outdoor or indoor (if applicable) *Note – Gathering exemptions have been granted for farms, commercial fishing vessels, saleyards, and food supply and fibre and crop auctions
  • Auction participants must follow check in requirements for all workers, visitors, contractors, etc. If the NSW Government QR code is not possible, business owners must be able to provide a full register of visitors as either an excel or csv file, within 4 hours if requested by authorities. This should be held onto for 30 days.
  • If the business is in LGAs of concern, you must follow the rules applied to worker testing and their movements. *Note – the Gathering Exemption does not apply to LGAs of Concern.
  • Ensure auction participants seek testing immediately if unwell and isolate until they have a negative result
  • Follow instructions if the auction business is linked with a COVID-19 case

As regulations may change, all individuals should regularly check public health orders to ensure they understand their obligations. For further information, visit COVID-19 rules | NSW Government