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Reopening of cafes, restaurants and other food and drink facilities FAQs

Questions and answers about the Victorian Government's plan to reopen our state's restaurants and cafes.

Environmental measures including cleaning FAQS

What are the most important things I can do to reduce the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) in my business?

Frequent cleaning, hand hygiene, ensuring people do not attend a premises when unwell and physical distancing are the main measures that can protect against coronavirus (COVID-19).

What best practice measures can I put in place to encourage physical distancing?

Encourage online and phone bookings and limit the number of walk-in diners.

Mark queueing spots to ensure a 1.5 metre spacing between each person in a queue.

Place tables so that diners are 1.5 metres from a neighbouring table when seated. If practical, arrange seating so different groups of customers are not seated face-to-face.

Encourage customers to remain at least 1.5 metres apart when moving through the business. If possible, stagger seating times and manage the duration of sittings to control the flow of patrons.

What signage do I need to display?

The Victorian Government has developed a range of display material and signage that venues can print and display, available on our Hospitality Industry Guidelines for coronavirus (COVID-19) page.

At a minimum each venue owner must:

  • Display a sign at each public entry that includes information on the maximum number of people that can be present in the space at a single time, rounded down to the nearest whole number.
  • Display posters on good hygiene and handwashing practices in prominent places and establish hygiene stations (with hand sanitiser) at entrances and throughout the venue to encourage hand hygiene of staff and patrons.

How often should surfaces be cleaned?

Cleaning and sanitising common contact surfaces will help to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). This should be done regularly for high-touch surfaces, including items on the table, after each customer has left. Surfaces and fittings should also be cleaned immediately when visibly soiled and after any spillage. Where available, a sanitiser should be used following thorough cleaning.

Common contact surfaces include:

  • Eating and drinking utensils
  • Tables and chairs (including underneath)
  • Kitchen and food contact surfaces
  • Door and cupboard handles
  • Handrails
  • Refrigerator handles
  • Tap handles
  • Switches
  • EFTPOS keypads.

Personal items used in the workplace such as phones should be cleaned and, ideally, sanitised frequently (e.g. by using isopropyl alcohol wipes). Workplace amenities including kitchens, lunchrooms, communal areas, change rooms, toilets, drink fountains and vending machines should also be regularly cleaned.

How should surfaces be cleaned and disinfected?

You need to clean and disinfect surfaces; both steps are essential. The first step is cleaning, which means wiping dirt and germs off a surface. You can use common household detergent products for cleaning, they are stocked at supermarkets. Cleaning alone does not kill germs.

The next step is to disinfect the surface. Disinfection means using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces. Again, supermarkets stock common household disinfection products – it is important to use products that are labelled “disinfectant” and to follow the instructions on the label.

You can find more information at https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/cleaning-and-disinfecting-reduce-covid-19-transmission.

Are self-serve food and drink stations permissible?

Communal self-serve stations increase the risk of infection.  The number of common touch points within the premises should therefore be reduced as far as possible. Self-service buffet-style food service areas, cutlery and glass stations, and communal drink and condiment stations should all be removed, or access prevented. Free drinking water should be provided via table service rather than at self-serve stations.

How often should staff be washing their hands or sanitising?

The most important measure is proper handwashing. As is usual practice, staff who handle food must have access to appropriate handwashing facilities and must wash and dry their hands:

  • before handling food;
  • between handling raw food and food that is ready to eat, such as pre-cooked food and salads;
  • after smoking, coughing, sneezing, blowing their nose, eating or drinking, and using the toilet;
  • after touching hair, scalp, mouth, nose or ear canal;
  • after handling rubbish and other waste;
  • after handling money or bank cards;
  • before and after cleaning; and
  • after removing gloves (if used).

What other personal hygiene processes should I consider implementing for staff?

It will be up to venues to decide whether additional short breaks in staff schedules will be required to follow proper hygiene procedures.

How can I limit interaction between customers and cashiers/front of house staff?

There are a number of ways interactions can be limited to reduce the risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission.

Ordering from a table should be encouraged, where possible, to limit counter or kiosk ordering.

customers to use contactless payment methods such as credit or debit cards, phone or other payment-enabled devices instead of cash.

Consider using physical barriers, such as plexiglass screens, at counters where interactions with customers frequently occur.

If practicable, set up separate venue entry and exit points.

How can staff safely provide menus to customers?

Menus should be either laminated and sanitised after each use or single-use paper menus. General non-contact signage can also be used to display your menus.

Takeaway menus should be placed outside the venue.

Should all food deliveries be cleaned before use, including packaging?

All perishable food such as fresh fruit and vegetables should be cleaned as usual. Do not use soap, disinfectants or detergents to wash your food. These cleaning products are not designed for human consumption and may be unsafe to use with food.

Food packaging has not presented any specific risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission. Studies suggest that the virus may survive for a few hours or up to several days, depending on the type of surface, temperature and humidity of the environment. If required, and safe to do, food packaging can be sanitised with common household disinfectants such as alcohol-based sanitiser.

For further information, please download a copy of the Food Safety Standards.

How can I best maintain physical distancing with contractors such as delivery drivers?

Delivery drivers and other contractors visiting the premises should minimise interaction with staff. Use electronic paperwork where possible and, instead of a signature, send a confirmation email or take a photo of the goods onsite as proof of delivery.

Can we continue to use our standard cutlery, crockery and beverage containers or do we need to switch to disposables?

Venues may continue to use their cutlery, crockery and beverage containers with appropriate hygiene, cleaning and sanitation processes in place. There is currently no evidence to suggest any benefit in switching to disposable, single-use food and beverage containers, cutlery and crockery.

How often should table condiments and water jugs be cleaned?

The number of condiments available on tables should be minimised where possible. Where they are offered, they should be cleaned after each group of diners. This includes items like sugar, salt, pepper and water jugs. If provided, condiments should be disinfected between uses and jugs of water should be properly cleaned before reuse.

My business was closed or operating minimally during the coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions. How do I reopen safely?

Check that food, equipment and other surfaces have not become contaminated due to maintenance activities, leaks or reduced use.

Make sure power, water supply and drainage are available and working as intended.

Check for signs of pest infestation and carry out the required pest control before opening.

Throw out food or packaging damaged by pests or food in damaged or opened packaging.

Thoroughly clean premises, utensils and packaging (where appropriate) before opening.

Check that perishable foods in the fridge/cool room are still be safe to use if these are not showing obvious signs of spoilage and are within their use-by or ‘Best Before’ date.

Consider the suitability of all food that may have been compromised during closure or reduced operation period.

I am a business or employee with questions about reopening, who can I contact?

Business Victoria is ready to support hospitality businesses and answer questions about preparations for a safe reopening. Businesses or employees can call 13 22 15 or Contact Us.

Am I able to impose a time limit on bookings?

Having set seatings so there is minimal overlap between different groups is recommended. If businesses choose to impose a time limit on bookings, this should be kept to less than two hours, particularly if there is more than one group sharing the same space.

How do I ensure shared toilets at my venue comply with physical distancing measures?

Limit queues for toilets and have adequately spaced markers on the floor to promote physical distancing.

Advise patrons to return to their seats if physical distancing cannot be practiced while queueing.

Ensure toilets are in working condition with warm running water for the hand basin and soap dispensers and disposable hand towels/dryers are provided.

High touch surfaces, including in bathrooms and toilets, should be frequently cleaned, with the number of cleaning times each day increased if there is a high number of patrons and a small number of facilities.

Does the ‘one person per every four square metres’ rule apply in the kitchen?

The density quotient of one person per four square metres does not apply to staff in kitchens that are workplaces, but staff working in the kitchen must practise physical distancing where possible.

Am I able to have contractors on site but working in a different part of the building (e.g. undertaking refurbishment works)? Do they count towards the patron limit?

If contractors are working in a different part of the building or not in the same enclosed space as patrons, they do not count towards the patron limit. But if they are working in the same enclosed space as patrons, they will be considered part of the patron limit.

What cleaning is required for fabric chairs?

Chairs should be cleaned after each patron use. For fabric chairs, clean the touch surfaces of the item that can be wiped with a damp cloth.

For soft or porous surfaces like fabric or leather, seek advice from the manufacturer of the item to be cleaned about which cleaning products can be used.

Where possible, it may be more effective to use a removable washable cover or a disposable cover on chairs. Disinfectant is not suitable on fabric surfaces as it only works with extended contact time with the surface.

Am I allowed to have shared plates on the menu?

Yes, as long as they are shared within a group at the same table. No buffet service should be provided.

Are walk-ins allowed or am I only able to take bookings?

Walk-ins are allowed but venues should consider how these are managed so that physical distancing can be maintained, particularly at entrances. Bookings provide a greater opportunity to manage demand and stagger arrival times to ensure physical distancing is maintained. Venues must also ensure walk-ins do not take them over the patron limit and that contact details are collected upon arrival.

Will the Victorian Government provide downloadable signage that I can put up at my venue on physical distancing and expected staff and patron behaviours?

Yes. Signage for the hospitality industry can be downloaded from our Hospitality Industry Guidelines for coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage.

Additional signage can be downloaded at

https://www.health.gov.au/resources/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-campaign-resources

https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-keeping-your-distance

I have a children’s play area or playground next to my dining room, am I able to open this?

From 11:59pm on 21 June 2020, children’s play areas can reopen for up to 20 people per space, subject to meeting the density quotient of one patron per four square metres. High touch surfaces within play areas should be regularly cleaned and sanitised.

Do I need to adjust air conditioning (HVAC)?

Where possible, open windows and adjust air conditioning to enhance fresh airflow.

Floorplan and patron limits FAQs

What does the four square metre rule mean?

Each separate area must not have a density of seated patrons greater than one per four square metres, and it must not exceed the patron limit at any one time.

To seat 20 patrons the floor area accessible to patrons must be a minimum of 80 square metres. If the floor area is smaller than 80 square metres, the density quotient applies.

The density quotient is the total area of the space (measured in square metres) accessible to patrons (i.e. excluding areas behind bars and storage) divided by four.

Can I convert my smoking area into a dining area to hold more patrons?

Yes, an outdoor smoking area, or drinking area where smoking is allowed, can become an outdoor dining area. However, smoking would no longer be allowed in that space.

If you chose to relocate your smoking area to create more dining space in your venue, you must also take into account the requirements of the Tobacco Act, which stipulates that an outdoor area where smoking is allowed cannot be within four metres of an outdoor dining area.

More information on outdoor dining and smoke-free area requirements is available at the DHHS website.

Can a private dining area constitute a separate enclosed space?

If the private dining area is physically separated by permanent structures it can be treated as a separate dining area with its own density quotient.

Can larger venues open for events and conferences?

The patron limit still applies even if a venue has a single dining space or density quotient that could accommodate more. It is also important to note that the current easing of restrictions allows for seated dining services only.

Can my indoor and outdoor areas be treated as separate dining areas?

Yes. Separate areas, whether indoor or outdoor, can each have up to the patron limit, subject to meeting the density quotient of one patron per four square metres of patron-accessible area.

Wouldn’t it be safer if patrons came to the counter for service while keeping 1.5 metres apart?

Ordering from a table should be encouraged, where possible, to limit counter or kiosk ordering. Table service helps ensure physical distancing between different seated groups at one time. This is in addition to new measures to protect staff and patrons, such as regular cleaning of surfaces and placing tables so that patrons are 1.5 metres away from neighbouring tables when seated.

Where counter and/or kiosk ordering cannot be avoided, restaurants should serve food and beverages to tables and:

  • provide clear markings on the floor for patrons to move from the seating area to the counter and/or kiosk while practising physical distancing
  • ensure crowding does not occur at kiosk or counter ordering, or entry or waiting areas for patrons who are dining in or waiting for takeaway.
  • set up a system for recording seated patron and visitors who attend your venue for longer than 15 minutes contact details (first name and a contact phone number) to support contact tracing a template for this is provided on our Hospitality Industry Guidelines for coronavirus (COVID-19) page.

What is the maximum booking size? Can there be adjustments for larger groups or extended families?

The maximum number of people in a single group that can be seated together is 10.

Larger groups can book multiple tables, but tables must be spaced so that patrons at separate tables remain 1.5 metres apart when seated.

Are children and infants included in the patron limit?

Children and infants are included in the patron limit and the limit of 10 per group seated together.

What should I do if patrons from separate tables start to swap and mingle once seated?

Restaurant staff should ask that customers stay at assigned tables. If a customer at the venue is in breach of the directions or is not cooperating, a business has the right (but is not compelled) to refuse entry or ask them to leave.

Does the patron limit include customers who are visiting to order or collect takeaway?

No, the limit only includes seated customers who are dining in.

The venue should take steps to minimise opportunities for people to mix whilst waiting for takeaway or a table (for example, closing lobbies/waiting areas and applying physical distancing rules to any queuing).

Are staff included in the density limit?

No, staff are not included in the density limit.

Are there restrictions to trading hours?

No. It’s up to each individual business when they choose to operate, subject to the usual rules and regulations.

Staff and training FAQs - for employers and venues

What training is available and is it mandatory?

The Victorian Government’s online coronavirus (COVID-19) training is now available It is the Government’s expectation that:

  1. at least one staff member at every venue will have completed the training;
  2. all staff should make themselves familiar with these guidelines; and
  3. posters be displayed in the venue confirming that staff have reviewed the guidelines and completed the training as required.

If a staff member is sick should they stay home?

Unwell staff must be excluded from the workplace until they are deemed safe to return by a health professional.

Any staff member showing coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms, however mild, should be asked not to come into work and/or sent home immediately. Symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) include fever, coughing, sore throat, fatigue and shortness of breath.

Employers should also implement a screening process by suggesting that staff complete the Staff COVID-19 Health Questionnaire in the Appendix of this document at the start of each shift.

If a staff member develops symptoms while at work, they should:

  • Immediately notify their supervisor or employer;
  • Leave the workplace, travelling by the least public means possible; and
  • Ring the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) coronavirus hotline on 1800 675 398 for advice on testing.

They must then stay home until symptoms have resolved, until it has been 72 hours since the last fever or chills and until they have received a negative test result.

Employees should also be provided with appropriate wellbeing support.

Should my staff be temperature tested at work?

Staff should complete the Staff Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health Questionnaire before every shift, which can include a temperature check.

Please advise your staff that if they take their temperature using a thermometer and it is 37.5 degrees or above, they are considered to have a fever and should not come to work.

Even if your staff have only mild symptoms like tiredness or a sore throat, they should attend a coronavirus (COVID-19) testing location. For a map of testing locations visit https://www.dhhs.vic.gov.au/gp-respiratory-clinics-and-hospital-respiratory-clinics-covid-19.

How can I prepare for a potential coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak among staff?

Have a plan in place if a staff member should test positive for coronavirus. For example, maintain accurate records of your work roster to identify who has been in close proximity with one another during a shift.

If staff develop symptoms at work, such as fever, cough, sore throat or shortness of breath, they should leave the workplace and seek medical advice.

For more information on identifying the symptoms of coronavirus, go to the DHHS website.

If a staff member does test positive for coronavirus in your business, treat their condition with understanding and compassion. Check in on their wellbeing regularly during self-isolation and monitor their mental health.

What do I do if a staff member or customer tests positive for coronavirus?

All businesses should have a response plan ready for the possibility of a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) at their premises.

If a patron or staff member who is a confirmed case of coronavirus (COVID-19) has attended your business while they are infectious, you will be contacted the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).

Each business should then consider the following steps:

  • Consult with DHHS on whether the business is required to close for a short period to facilitate cleaning and enable contact tracing.
  • Determine what areas of the business were visited, used, or impacted by the infected person.
  • Clean and disinfect all areas that were used by the confirmed case (for example, dining areas, offices, bathrooms and common areas).
    • Close off the affected area before cleaning and disinfecting.
    • Open outside doors and windows to increase air circulation and then commence cleaning and disinfection.
    • Fully sanitise all areas of the site, paying particular attention to high touch areas. The venue should remain closed until this is completed.
  • Where relevant, notify patrons and staff that they may have had contact with an infected person and encourage them to monitor their health and report any concerns to their healthcare provider.
  • Work with DHHS to ensure that all appropriate preventative measures have been taken prior to reopening the business.
  • Any staff member who tests positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) should remain in home isolation until they have been notified by DHHS that they are no longer required to isolate and have met its criteria for release. The staff member should follow DHHS guidance and their employer’s policy.
  • Staff who are determined as close contacts of a person with coronavirus should not come to work for 14 days after their last close contact and must quarantine themselves. During quarantine, they should watch for symptoms and seek medical assessment and testing if they become symptomatic.
  • If multiple staff are directed to be quarantined and this affects operational capacity, the business will need to consider its own contingency plans for disposing of raw materials (especially fresh ingredients), any work in progress, or short shelf-life stock to ensure food safety is maintained.

Please respect the privacy of people with a confirmed case of coronavirus and treat their condition with understanding and compassion. Check in on their wellbeing regularly during self-isolation and monitor their mental health.

Should I encourage staff to wear Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)?

No. Good hygiene practices, such as handwashing, cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and utensils, and physical distancing and barriers are the most effective methods for maintaining staff health and reducing the risk of transmission.

Wearing masks is not recommended for individuals that are not showing symptoms and anyone with symptoms should be asked to stay home.

Businesses should not encourage staff to wear masks as a preventative measure.

Gloves are recommended when cleaning and disinfecting. Use of eye protection, masks and gowns is generally not required when undertaking routine cleaning unless the manufacturer’s advice for a disinfectant product requires it.

Can staff move freely around the premises?

Wherever possible, processes should be modified to reduce staff’s need to move through the premises to carry out their work. For example, divide dining areas into clear sections and assign them to specific staff, and adopt processes that allow front of house staff to collect food without going into food preparation areas.

How can I minimise interactions between employees during breaks or when transitioning into or out of work periods?

Businesses should help staff maintain physical distancing protocols during these times by:

  • Reviewing shift arrangements to create smaller teams and have each team work independently (known as cohorting)
  • Staggering or increasing the time between shifts to eliminate bottlenecks and avoid intermingling between different teams
  • Using the gaps between shifts for cleaning between work teams or cohorts
  • Spreading out staff break times to reduce the number of people using communal facilities at the same time
  • Removing excess chairs and tables from communal break areas to encourage staff to stay a minimum 1.5 metres from one another during breaks
  • Discouraging traveling together, such as carpooling, to work.

Staff whose work is not essential to the physical operation of the business should work from home. Essential work includes things like cooking and serving patrons.

If a staff member turns up to work with a temperature and is sent home, am I responsible for paying them for that shift?

Staff attending work while unwell creates a significant risk of coronavirus transmission. Staff should be directed to stay home if they are sick, or go home immediately if they become unwell.

Employers’ leave policies should be reviewed to ensure that staff do not attend work while unwell.

Responsibility for payment will depend on how the staff is engaged (i.e. permanent or casual), the employer’s leave policies and any applicable workplace instrument such as an enterprise agreement or modern award.

Further information on coronavirus-related pay and leave entitlements can be found through the Fair Work Ombudsman at:

How can I best engage and consult with staff regarding coronavirus (COVID-19)?

Employers have an obligation to consult employees and Health and Safety Representatives on matters related to health and safety that directly affect, or are likely to directly affect them.

Keep staff informed through regular briefings on coronavirus, including updates and reminders on risk control strategies, and communicating and enforcing coronavirus-related policies and procedures.

Distribute information from authoritative sources, such as WorkSafe and the Department of Health and Human Services, to increase staff’s awareness of the need for preventative measures to reduce the risk of transmission.

Consult staff on what control measures should be put in place to eliminate or minimise the risk of transmission and the adequacy of facilities, such as for handwashing, for staff and patrons.

Ensure that your staff feel supported and heard. Take their views into account when making decisions, advise them of those decisions, and provide means for them to their raise concerns.

Also ensure that any consultation requirements under workplace instruments (such as an enterprise agreement or modern award) that apply to your business are observed.

For further help on how best to consult staff, refer to WorkSafe Victoria’s website.

Staff and training FAQs - for staff

What personal protective equipment am I entitled to as a member of staff?

Personal protective equipment (PPE) is not currently recommended as a preventive measure against coronavirus (COVID-19) for hospitality workers or for healthy individuals. The most important measure is proper handwashing, cleaning and physical distancing.

If PPE (such as gloves) are worn as part of routine food preparation, this practice should be continued together with the usual food safety requirements.

Does my employer need to consult with me about safe work practices?

Employers must consult staff and health and safety representatives (if any) on health and safety matters that directly, or are likely to directly, affect them.

Employers should also:

  • provide updated information to all staff, including staff who are on leave, contractors and casual workers, in a format that they can easily understand (e.g. in their own language) and in multiple formats (e.g. email, posters and verbal)
  • ensure there are contingency plans for replacing staff when necessary.

For further information on how your employer should consult with staff, visit WorkSafe Victoria’s website.

Am I entitled to additional paid leave if I have to self isolate?

Responsibility for payment will depend on how you are engaged with the employer (i.e. as a permanent or casual staff), the employer’s leave policies and any applicable workplace instrument such as an enterprise agreement or modern award.

Further information on coronavirus-related pay and leave entitlements can be found at the Fair Work Ombudsman website.

What if I’m directed to self-isolate, but are not entitled to paid leave?

People who are directed to self-isolate by the Chief Health Officer – either because they have coronavirus (COVID-19) or are a close contact of someone with coronavirus – and who will not have any income as a result, may be eligible to receive a one-off $1,500 payment from the Victorian Government.

Workers who can't work from home - including casual workers, some self-employed workers and permanent employees who have no sick leave - and who aren’t covered by JobKeeper and whose employer has no special leave in place, may be eligible for the one-off payment.

How do I find out whether I’m eligible for the one-off $1,500 payment?

You may be eligible if you have been directed to self-isolate. Please discuss your eligibility with your public health officer.

How should I educate the staff I supervise about the risks of coronavirus?

Ensure that all staff under your supervision, including contractors and volunteers, are informed about the risks of coronavirus and their responsibility for protecting themselves and others from those risks.

Provide information in a format that staff can easily understand, such as in their own language, and in multiple formats, such as through email, verbal discussions and posters. Translated materials are available on the Hospitality Industry Guidelines for coronavirus (COVID-19) page.

Display signs around the workplace advising risk control requirements, such as covering coughs, maximum number of people in a room and not coming to work if unwell.

Brief staff on the symptoms of coronavirus. Tell them to stay home if they are unwell and showing symptoms, even if these are minor.

Staff should also be trained on the control measures being put in place to eliminate or reduce those risks as far as possible.

All staff, contractors and volunteers must comply with any reasonable instruction given by their employer to ensure the health and safety of other staff and patrons.

What are my rights if I am concerned about safety at my workplace?

You have a legal right to a safe work environment, to be provided with adequate training, be familiar with relevant work policies, and be consulted on issues that affect you and know how and to whom to raise concerns.

If a business is not meeting its obligations as an employer under the OHS Act, its staff or customers can contact WorkSafe Victoria’s advisory service on 1800 136 089.

Patrons FAQs

How can I encourage safe customer behaviour?

Place signs at entry points stating that:

  • Customers should not enter if they are unwell
  • Only a number of patrons are allowed to be seated according to the patron limit or density quotient of the dining space
  • Patrons not adhering to the seating limits are breaching the directions issued by the Chief Health Officer for which penalties may apply
  • Businesses have the right to refuse service or entry under these guidelines.

Signage for the hospitality industry can be downloaded at the Hospitality Industry Guidelines for coronavirus (COVID-19) page.

Additional signage can be downloaded at:

https://www.health.gov.au/resources/collections/coronavirus-covid-19-campaign-resources

https://www.health.gov.au/resources/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-keeping-your-distance

What do I do if a customer does not comply with my business’ control measures?

If a customer at the venue is in breach of the directions issued by the Chief Health Officer or is not cooperating, a business has the right to refuse entry to customers or ask them to leave.

Am I able to take temperature checks to screen patrons entering the venue?

Temperature checks for patrons are not currently recommended for the hospitality industry. Temperature checks are only recommended in certain sensitive settings such as on entry to hospitals. (Please note that venue staff should complete the Staff Coronavirus (COVID-19) Health Questionnaire before every shift, which can include a temperature check).

Who do I need to collect contact information from?

Venues should have a process to request, record and securely store contact details of all visitors to the venue for more than 15 minutes. This includes patrons, maintenance workers, contractors and delivery workers for example.

Venues are not required to details from customers who visit for less than 15 minutes, such as those ordering or collecting take away food and beverages.

What information am I required to collect from patrons?

The venue must request that each person who attends for more than 15 minutes provide their first name and a contact phone number.

Venues must keep a secure record of those details, the date and time at which the person attended the facility, and the dining area/room and table number at which they were seated

Venues are not required to record patrons’ IDs to verify their information.

Do I need to disclose to customers that data will be retained?

Yes, there should be a collection notice displayed informing patrons and other visitors of the requirement to record their contact details if they attend the premises for more than 15 minutes, the purpose for doing so and that records will be destroyed after 28 days.

How long do records need to be kept?

Keep the record for 28 days from the date the individual attended the venue. This enables contact tracers to quickly contact those who were potentially exposed in the event that a positive case of coronavirus (COVID-19) is detected at the venue.

Securely destroy the record after 28 days from the date the individual attended the venue. Note that this only applies to customer records put in place to prevent the spread of coronavirus. Other business records, such as those required by the Australian Taxation Office, should be retained under their normal statutory periods.

Businesses must take reasonable steps to protect patrons’ personal information from being misused, interfered with and lost, as well as from unauthorised access, modification and disclosure.

What if a patron or visitor does not want to give their details?

Explain the purpose for collection, which is to assist any contact tracing in the event of an outbreak or potential exposure to someone with coronavirus at the venue and in order to protect the patron and the health and safety of their family and friends.

If the patron or visitor still declines to provide details after being given an explanation, they cannot be compelled to do so.

Patrons concerned about the handling of their personal information by the venue can make a privacy complaint to the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

Do I need to keep electronic records or would written down (pen and paper) suffice?

Businesses can determine how to best securely record and store visitor details. A simple hand written log or register will suffice but considerations must be made on how to minimise the risk of transmission if staff and patrons share the record-keeping materials. For example, only have one staff member per shift collect customers’ details and/or regularly clean the pens used to write down details.

Records should be securely stored and information not used for any other purpose other than the reason for which it was collected, namely to trace in the event that a positive case of coronavirus (COVID-19) is detected at the venue.

Do I have to do an ID check to verify patron and visitor details?

No. You should request and record each person’s first name and phone number as well as the time and date they visited if that person attends the premises for more than 15 mintues.

Do I have to get every single patron and visitor’s details, or just one from each group?

The details of every person in the party who attends the premises for more than 15 minutes should be requested.

What if the patron or visitor does not have a phone number?

Invite the patron to provide an email address instead or any other alternative means of contact to assist with contact tracing in the event of an outbreak or potential exposure.

Can I record visitor contact details from when they made a booking or reservation?

Records should reflect all the patrons and visitors who attend your venue, not only those making the booking. Details from a booking or reservation can be used as long as the person actually attended the venue at the time they booked for.

What do I need to do to comply with privacy regulations when collecting and keeping visitor details?

The Office of the Australian Information Commissioner provides a guide on the reasonable steps you could take to protect the personal information you are collecting from patrons and visitors. This includes steps to protect the information from misuse, interference and loss, as well as unauthorised access, modification or disclosure.

Am I allowed to collect data from customers who are under the age of 18?

Yes.

Do I have to request patron and visitor details each time they come in, even if they are regulars?

Yes, if they attend for premises for more than 15 minutes.

Can patrons bring their own drinks for consumption on premises?

The directions do not impact on liquor licensing arrangements. If you are licenced for BYO, then it can continue.

Can patrons come to our venue for a drink only?

Yes, from 11:59pm, 21 June patrons can have a drink without a meal but only for seated service.

Can customers bring their own keep-cups or takeaway containers?

It is up to the business to decide if they accept customers’ own cups or takeaway containers. Businesses are not obliged to accept them.

I have tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) since going to a venue this week. What do I do?

The case, contact and outbreak management team at the Department Health and Human Services interviews every confirmed case and performs contact tracing. This includes determining each place that person attended while they were infectious. The team will contact the venue you attended and provide guidance on the public health actions required at the venue.

What if patrons are unable to use contactless payment and want to use cash?

Venues are at liberty to set the commercial terms upon which payments take place, and the Reserve Bank of Australia advises that “refusal to accept payment in legal tender banknotes and coins is not unlawful”. For more information, see https://banknotes.rba.gov.au/legal/legal-tender/.

Compliance and enforcement FAQs

Where can I find further information on safely reopening my venue?

Business Victoria is ready to support hospitality businesses and answer questions about preparing for a safe reopening. We can be contacted on 13 22 15 or online via the Contact Us form.

For information on health and safety requirements under the OHS Act, businesses should refer to WorkSafe Victoria’s website or contact its advisory service on 1800 136 089.

How will you enforce compliance? Who will enforce it?

Victoria Police and other authorities involved in the regulation of hospitality and liquor licencing, such as Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR), and local councils, may conduct spot checks to ensure compliance with the directions of the Chief Health Officer.

A Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak Joint Intelligence Unit has been established to support outbreak preparedness and identify and respond to outbreak risks.

The Department of Health and Human Services and WorkSafe will co-ordinate intelligence and information on businesses that are non-compliant.

WorkSafe will continue compliance and enforcement action under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act).

What are the penalties for not complying?

Victoria Police can issue on the spot fines of up to $1,652 for individuals and up to $9,913 for businesses for:

  • Refusing or failing to comply with the emergency directions;
  • Refusing or failing to comply with a public health risk power direction; or
  • Refusing or failing to comply with a direction by the Chief Health Officer.

Larger fines of up to $20,000 for individuals and $100,0000 for businesses are possible through the courts.

WorkSafe may take a range of compliance and enforcement action against an employer which fails to comply with its duties under the OHS Act.

I think my local restaurant or cafe is not complying with government guidelines on protecting the community from coronavirus (COVID-19), who should I report this to?

You can raise concerns about hospitality venues to the Police Assistance Line on 131 444.

Other FAQs

Why aren't food courts opening?

Food courts remain closed because of difficulties in implementing physical distancing between customers and the number of high touch surfaces that are difficult to clean between customers.

Will venues be able to offer food and drink classes such as cooking and cocktail making if all physically distancing and hygiene guidelines are observed?

Yes, venues can offer food and drink classes, so long as all restrictions and requirements for that venue are met (patron limits, the requirement that all patrons be seated, density quotient, cleaning, and signage).

Will wineries, breweries and distilleries with dedicated dining areas be able to open?

Wineries, breweries and distilleries can continue to operate, subject to capacity limits and density quotients. Food and drinks, including tastings, can only be served to seated patrons.

Can fast food restaurants have dine-in patrons if they do not offer table service?

The easing of restrictions applies to any food business classified as Class 2 under the Victorian Food Act 1984 that can offer table service to serve food.

Fast food restaurants are permitted to re-open their dining areas if they can comply with the Chief Health Officer’s directions.

Restaurants are to ensure that patrons are seated in a way that complies with these directions. Restaurants are to encourage ordering from the table, where possible, to limit counter or kiosk ordering. Where counter and/or kiosk ordering cannot be avoided, restaurants should:

  • provide clear markings on the floor for patrons to move from the seating area to the counter and/or kiosk while practising physical distancing of at least 1.5 metres
  • ensure crowding does not occur when people get up to order and/or where people are dining in and/or ordering takeaway
  • set up a system for recording seated patron and visitors who attend your venue for longer than 15 minutes contact details (first name and a contact phone number) to support contact tracing.

Can I open my gaming room to patrons?

At this stage gaming areas must remain closed.

Am I able to open TAB or KENO facilities?

TAB facilities inside licensed premises are permitted to open from 11:59pm on 21 June 2020, and must comply with the requirements of the venue. That is:

  • food and drink may be served at tables only
  • up to 20 patrons per space, subject to meeting the density quotient of one person for every 4 square metres of floor space accessible to patrons
  • tables to be spaced so that patrons are 1.5 metres from a neighbouring table when seated
  • patrons to stay 1.5m apart
  • contact details (first name and phone number) to be collected of every person who attends for more than 15 minutes to assist in rapid contact tracing.

Venues should consider removing any communal items and promote physical distancing by placing floor or wall markings or signs to identify 1.5 metres distance between patrons for queues.

In addition, there should be regular cleaning and sanitising of common and high touch surfaces. This includes cleaning and sanitising self service terminals in between uses by different groups of patrons. Surfaces and fittings should also be cleaned immediately when visibly soiled and after any spillage. Where available, a sanitiser should be used following thorough cleaning.

Common contact surfaces include:

  • Self-service terminals
  • In-venue kiosks
  • Eating and drinking utensils
  • Tables and chairs (including underneath)
  • Handrails
  • Tap handles
  • Switches
  • EFTPOS keypads.

Can strip clubs reopen?

Yes. From 11:59pm on 21 June, strip clubs may open for up to 20 seated customers per space with maximum group numbers totalling 10, subject to the four square metre rule. Tables must be spaced so that patrons at separate tables remain 1.5 metres apart when seated.

The performance space should be at least 1.5 metres from a patron table, and patrons at the venue must remain seated.

Can nightclubs reopen?

From 11:59pm on 21 June, nightclubs may open for up to 20 seated customers per space with maximum group numbers totalling 10, subject to the four square metre rule.

Nightclubs may provide a seated service only. Tables must be spaced so that patrons at separate tables remain 1.5 metres apart when seated. Dance floors remain closed.

Can we make our ATM accessible to diners?

Yes. An onsite ATM can be accessible to diners. It should be cleaned along with other high touch surfaces.

Will businesses be required to complete and display coronavirus (COVID-19) checklists similar to those enforced in QLD and ACT?

No.

Will businesses be required to display coronavirus (COVID-19) fact sheets and hygiene guides, such as for handwashing, physical distancing, etc.

A person who owns, controls or operates a food and drink facility which involves members of the public entering any single undivided indoor space, must display a sign at each public entry to each space which states the maximum number of people that can be in the space at a single time (the density quotient rounded down to the nearest whole number).

Downloadable signage is available on the Hospitality Industry Guidelines for coronavirus (COVID-19) page for venues to display information about the symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) and the need to stay home when unwell, and other relevant hygiene and physical distancing measures at appropriate, highly visible locations throughout their venue.

Can I have live music or entertainment in my venue?

There is no restriction on live music at a venue. Performers are attending the venue for work, so would not be captured by the patron limit or one person per four square metre rule as this only applies to patrons. Performers should remain in their allocated performance space and not move around the venue. The performance space should be at least 1.5m from a patron table. Patrons at the venue must remain seated.

Please refer to the Arts and Culture Guidelines for coronavirus (COVID-19) for additional guidance relating to performance venues.

Are trivia nights allowed?

Activities such as trivia can continue, so long as all conditions for hospitality are met and patrons remain seated and do not mix during the activity.

Can patrons use dart boards or pool tables in my venue?

Dart boards, pool (billiards) tables or similar shared indoor activities are to remain closed in pubs, clubs or hotels unless the bar is closed (no food or drink service) and those conducting the activity have exclusive use of the space and remain 1.5m apart.

Can I offer karaoke at my venue?

You can offer karaoke at restaurants and licenced venues, however it is not encouraged because it presents a transmission risk to patrons due to the use of shared microphones. Should you offer karaoke, the microphone and other shared equipment must be cleaned and sanitised between uses. All patrons must remain seated.

Karaoke bars where groups have exclusive access to a separate room can operate, subject to patron capacity limits and the density quotient of one person per four square metres being adhered to. All shared equipment must be cleaned and sanitised between use by different groups.

Go to the Hospitality Industry Guidelines for coronavirus (COVID-19) page

For more information see the DHHS coronavirus (COVID-19) webpage