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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.

Encourage 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.

What counts as ‘food’ to allow alcohol to be served?

Alcohol can only be served with a meal, which is more than a ‘snack’. Restaurants and cafes should use common sense in applying this requirements noting that menus are all different. That said, alcohol must not be served without food or with snack food only.

As always, we ask you to use your judgement to ensure that you customers drink responsibly.

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 20-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 20-patron limit. But if they are working in the same enclosed space as patrons, they will be considered part of the 20-patron limit.

What cleaning is required for fabric chairs?

Clean the touch surfaces of a fabric chair that can be wiped with a damp cloth. Chairs should be cleaned after each patron use.

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 provided by the Victorian Government 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?

At this time, children’s play areas within venues should remain closed. These facilities represent a risk of coronavirus (COVID-19) transmission because of the mixing of groups, the lack of access control and the need for regular cleaning and disinfection. The focus at this stage is on enabling a seated dining service while limiting patrons’ movement inside venues.

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 dining area must not have a density of seated patrons greater than one per four square metres, and any more than 20 patrons at any one time.

To seat 20 patrons the dining floor area accessible to patrons must be a minimum of 80 square metres. If the dining 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 20-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 dining areas, whether indoor or outdoor, can have up to 20 patrons, subject to the density quotient for each area.

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

Table service helps ensure physical distancing between different groups dining 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.

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

The maximum number of people that can be seated together is six. Larger groups will not be allowed.

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

If diners are from the same household, will they be required to sit 1.5m apart?

Not if they are sitting at the same table. The 1.5 metre spacing requirement is between tables to maintain physical distancing between different groups of diners.

Will children and infants be included in the 20 person limit?

Children and infants are included in the 20 person limit, and the limit of 6 per table.

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).

Why are staff not included in the density limit?

The current Restricted Activity Direction applies the four square metre rule to retail businesses, and includes workers and customers within the maximum number of people allowed.

This will change from Monday, 1 June, when the four square metre rule will no longer apply to workers. Businesses and facilities will be able to have the number of staff reasonably required to operate on site.

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 will be available from 1 June. 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?

No. We recommend that staffdo a personal health check before they leave home, 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 by 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?

The times at which staff are not actively working or transitioning, such as meal breaks, toilet breaks, arrival and leaving work, are when interaction between them is most likely, which may lead to an increased risk of transmission.

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 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.

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.

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.

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).

What information am I required to collect from patrons?

The venue must request that each person who attends 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, 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.

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 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.

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?

No. Only seated service is available. Alcohol can only be served with a meal, which is more than a ‘snack’.

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 cafe or restaurant 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 cafe or restaurant 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 is the role of WorkSafe and Victoria Police?

Victoria Police and other authorities involved in the regulation of hospitality and liquor licencing, such as VCGLR, and local councils, may conduct spot checks to ensure compliance with the directions of the Chief Health Officer. WorkSafe will continue compliance and enforcement action under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act).

WorkSafe is responsible for monitoring and enforcing compliance with the OHS Act. 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.

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 report such conduct to the Police Assistance Line on 131 444.

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

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

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.

If the dining areas of pubs are opening, can bars that offer separate dining sections open as well?

The directions allow any food business classified as Class 2 under the Food Act that can offer table service to resume doing so under strict conditions. This includes restaurants and cafes within a bar.

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?

No. Only seated table service can be offered at this time, with a limit of six diners at each table.

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

The directions allow any food business classified as Class 2 under the Food Act that can offer table service, to resume doing so under strict conditions. This includes restaurants and cafes within wineries, breweries and distilleries.

Will wine/beer/spirit tastings be permissible if accompanied by a meal?

Yes. Alcohol, including tastings, can be served with meals.

What about RSLs, bowls clubs and other multi-purpose venues?

The directions allow any food business classified as Class 2 under the Food Act that can offer table service to resume doing so under strict conditions. This includes restaurants and bistros within a pub, bar, registered and licensed club, RSL and community club or hotel.

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

The easing of restrictions applies to restaurants and cafes that offer table service to serve food. This includes standalone cafes and restaurants, as well as restaurants and bistros within a pub, bar, registered and licensed club, RSL and community club or hotel.

Fast food restaurants that do not provide table service are not currently permitted to have dine-in patrons, but they can still offer takeaway and delivery services. Seating and tables at fast food restaurants without table service make it more difficult to safely implement physical distancing measures and cleaning.

If I have a gaming room on my premises, will it be able to operate?

Restrictions on other spaces within these kinds of venues – including public bars and gaming areas –remain in place, as will restrictions on food courts.

I have a TAB on my premises which is distinct from gaming, will I be able to open that?

Restrictions on other spaces within these kinds of venues – including public bars and gaming areas –remain in place.

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 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.

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

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