Business FAQs

FAQs: applicable after 11.59 Thursday 21 October

Can I open my non-essential retail business?

Yes.  Restrictions for Non-essential retail businesses will be eased with effect from 11:59pm on Thursday 21 October 2021.

One person per four square metres must be applied to any areas of the business which are accessible to the public on your premises, excluding staff.

How many people can come into my retail business?

You are permitted to have one person per four square metres of usable space in all areas of your business accessible to the public on your premises, excluding staff.

Does non-essential retail business still have to operate by booked appointments?

There is no longer a requirement to operate by appointment only for non-essential retail.

How many staff can be working at one time?

There will be no restrictions on the number of staff permitted to be present on site at any one time, and staff are not required to be included in the occupancy limits.

Can non-essential retail business still offer click and collect services?

You can continue if you wish, but there is no longer a requirement for non-essential retail businesses to operate by click and collect service only.

Can my non-essential retail business still make deliveries?

Yes. The preferred approach for home deliveries is to deliver goods in a contactless way - that is, leave purchased goods at the door.

Do customers need to check in with the Check in CBR app still and wear masks?

Yes. All customers must continue to practice COVID Safe behaviours, and must check in through the Check In CBR app if they are aged 16 years and over. All staff and customers aged 12 years and over must wear masks at all times while in your business.

Are fitting rooms allowed to be open in retail businesses?

Fitting rooms are permitted to open, but businesses should consider regular cleaning of high touch points as part of the review of their COVID Safe Plans.  Businesses should ensure that customers do not congregate in fitting areas, and should maintain 1.5 metres distancing from people unknown to them wherever possible.

Does this include cafes and restaurants?

No new changes have been made for hospitality settings.  As outlined in the Pathway Document, the next stage of easing measures are planned to be implemented from 11:59pm on Thursday 28 October 2021.

Cafes and restaurants are permitted to operate in line with existing restrictions that came into effect from 15 October 2021.

Does this include hairdressers, barbers and beauty therapy businesses?

These businesses are permitted to operate in line with existing restrictions that came into effect from 15 October 2021.

When can we expect capacity limits to be lifted?

As outlined in the Pathway Document, the next stage of easing measures are planned to be implemented from 11:59pm on Thursday 28 October 2021. It is envisaged that capacity and density limits will be eased at this time.  Any changes made will take into account the COVID-19 situation in the ACT at the time.

Do customers need to be vaccinated to go in a retail store in theACT?

Businesses or other organisations are not required to seek proof of vaccination status to access public settings or private businesses other than in high-risk settings identified by the ACT Chief Health Officer such as hospitals and health care facilities operated by Canberra Health Services.

Every business is different, and it is the role of business owners to stay informed and undertake risk-based assessments to protect the safety of employees, customers and others under the Work, Health and Safety Act 2011.

Subject to this assessment and the requirements of anti-discrimination laws, including the ACT Discrimination Act 1991, and the ACT Human Rights Act 2004, businesses may choose to make it a condition of entry that people attending their premises be vaccinated with an approved COVID-19 vaccine.

More information can be found here.

Do children count toward the number of people allowed in a retail store?

Yes, children of all ages are counted in occupancy limits that apply to retail businesses.

Do customers need to book an appointment to go into a retail store?

No. Retail stores are no longer required to operate by appointment only, but businesses may still choose to operate in this manner if they wish.

Can residents from approved postcodes within NSW come into the ACT to shop?

Yes. Residents from approved border region postcodes are permitted to enter the ACT without needing to quarantine, providing they abide by the ACT public health directions.

Does this mean large-scale businesses such as Kmart, Bunnings and IKEA can open?

Yes. These businesses will be permitted to open.

Casual Exposure Sites

Why is ACT Health no longer listing certain monitor for symptoms and casual sites?

ACT Health has determined that people exposed at Monitor for Symptoms and certain Casual sites are at very low risk of becoming infected. This is based on data from the current outbreak both in Australia and interstate.

Given the very low potential for development of disease and for spread to the community, and the high impact on the community and businesses in regard to quarantine requirements, ACT Health will cease active follow up on some casual contact sites and will no longer be listing monitor for symptoms sites and will only list casual exposure sites where there is a higher potential for public health impact.

How do we know which sites have had someone with COVID-19 attend there if the sites are no longer being listed?

Sites no longer being listed on the COVID-19 website are considered to be very low risk to the community, which is why they are no longer being listed.

ACT Health strongly advises everyone to continue monitoring for symptoms, get tested if experiencing the slightest of symptoms, maintain physical distancing, wear masks and hand sanitise regularly.

What locations are considered lower impact sites?

The following are examples of sites that are considered low risk for community spread of COVID-19. These will generally not be listed as exposure sites. However, there may be situations where these sites are listed.

  • Take away services
  • Click and collect services
  • Contactless food delivery services
  • Public transport
  • Outdoor public venues eg: playgrounds and sporting grounds
  • ATMs.

All sites need to continue to follow COVID -safe practices with cleaning, social distancing and mask wearing.

Will I still be notified if I am a casual contact?

ACT Health are continuing the monitoring and management of exposure sites that have a higher risk of transmission. Casual contacts may be identified from these sites. You will be notified by ACT Health if you are identified as a casual contact from these sites with higher risks of transmission.

What do I need to do if I’m notified as a casual contact from a higher risk exposure site?

The advice for casual contacts remains the same. You must:

The number of tests you need, depends on how many days ago you were at the exposure location.
The day you were at the exposure location counts as day zero.

If you were at the casual contact exposure location less than 4 days ago, you will need two tests.

  • You need to get a test as soon as you find out you are a casual contact.
  • You will need to get another test on day 5 after you were at the casual contact exposure location.
  • You need to remain in quarantine until you receive a negative test result from the 2nd COVID-19 test.

If you were at the casual contact location 4 or more days ago, you only need to get one test

  • You should get tested as soon as possible.
  • You will need to remain in quarantine until you receive a negative test result.

There has been a COVID positive person in my place of employment/ one of my colleagues is confirmed as having COVID-19, but I have not yet received information on what it means for me, what do I need to do?

ACT Health will contact you to confirm if you are a close or casual contact from an exposure at your place of employment. ACT Health may send this message through employers to facilitate this process.

There has been a COVID positive person in my place of employment/ one of my colleagues is confirmed as having COVID-19, but I have not heard from ACT Health, what do I need to do?

  • If you have symptoms of COVID-19, do not go to work. Get tested as soon as possible and isolate until you get a negative result.
  • ACT Health will contact you if you are a casual or close contact. ACT Health may send this message through employers to facilitate this process.
  • You do not need to quarantine or get tested unless you have symptoms or are directed to by ACT Health.

Why have the listing of casual sites reduced/ceased being published?

ACT Health has determined that people exposed at Monitor for Symptoms and certain Casual sites are at very low risk of becoming infected. This is based on data from the current outbreak both in Australia and overseas.

Given the low potential for development of disease and for spread to the community, and the high impact on the community and businesses in regard to quarantine requirements, ACT Health will cease active follow up on some casual contact sites and will no longer be listing monitor for symptoms sites and will only list casual exposure sites where there is a higher potential for public health impact.

I am aware that a positive case has been in my business premise, but I have not been advised by ACT Health, what do I do next?

If you have been made aware of a positive case who may have been in your business premise, but you have not yet been contacted by ACT Health directly, the next steps are:

  • ACT Health will ensure contact is made with sites that are confirmed exposure sites. Not all sites that have a worker who is positive will be considered exposure sites, depending on when the person was considered infectious.
  • ACT health will not be contacting sites that are assessed as a low risk exposure site.
  • Follow your COVID-19 Safety Plan
  • Follow the guidance for cleaning of venues with a potential or confirmed case of COVID-19

Due to the high volume of sites ACT Health assesses and contacts on a daily basis, please allow some time for this contact to occur. ACT Health will contact you as soon as possible to confirm whether your business is an exposure site and will provide further instructions at this time.

I run a hospitality business and have been notified of a positive case, what do I do next?

ACT Health highly recommends if a positive case enters your business premise, you undertake cleaning as per the advice on the website before you can safely re-open for business. ACT Health will be in contact with you regarding any requirements for staff including the need to quarantine. The quarantine requirements will be based on the risk assessment undertaken by ACT Health for both the site and the people affected.

I run a retail business and have been notified of a positive case, what do I do next?

ACT Health highly recommends if a positive case enters your business premise, you undertake cleaning as per the advice on the website before you can safely re-open for business.

ACT Health will be in contact with you regarding any requirements for staff including the need to quarantine. The quarantine requirements will be based on the risk assessment undertaken by ACT Health for both the site and the people affected.

What can I do as a hospitality business owner to decrease the likelihood of being classified as a close contact exposure site?

The more a business can ensure its staff and customers take protective measures and practice COVID safe behaviour, the better equipped it will be to avoid being classified as a high-risk exposure site.

ACT Health will continue to conduct a risk assessment when assessing exposure sites. This risk assessment will include how long the covid positive person spent at the site, movement through the site, COVID safe behaviours followed, and how close were they to other people.

Asking customers to remain seated decreases the risk of exposure as there is less movement around the site and it is easier to identify who may have been in close contact with a case.

It is important to remember that people may attend work and other sites while unknowingly infectious. To minimise this risk, staff members should not work when they are contacts or if they have symptoms.

There are also things that businesses can do to minimise the spread of COVID-19. The COVID-19 checklist on reopening businesses provides this advice, and we encourage all businesses to follow this guidance.

Core restrictions 

The core restrictions that all businesses in the ACT must follow from 12am on Friday, 15 October include:

  • All ACT businesses must prepare a COVID-19 Safety Plan that can be produced if requested by an authorised officer. To assist businesses to develop their COVID-19 Safety Plan, the following resources have been developed:
    • COVID-19 Safety Checklist for Small Business (once completed becomes your COVID-19 Safety Plan)
    • COVID-19 Safety Guidelines
  • Businesses and venues must be registered for and using the Check In CBR app.
  • All staff and visitors or clients aged 16 years or older seeking to enter a business must check in using the Check In CBR app.
  • All staff and visitors or clients aged 12 years or older must wear a mask indoors and outdoors at all times (unless they are eating or drinking).

Information about changes for businesses is available on the ACT's Pathway Forward page.

Going into your business

Can personal trainers run an outdoor bootcamp or session for clients?

Outdoor bootcamps and personal training can occur within outdoor gathering limits - no more than 25 people, excluding staff.

Participants should remain outside at all times, they should not share equipment without sanitising or cleaning first. The trainer must wear a mask, unless conducting strenuous exercise. Physical distancing must be maintained at all times.

Can my staff and I work from the office?

There can be a gradual return to workplaces where it suits the employer and employee. This must occur in accordance with the Public Health Direction.

In the first instance, businesses must meet their work, health, and safety obligations, and ensure that they have a COVID Safety Plan in place. Workplaces will need to abide by density restrictions of one person per four square metres in all areas accessed by the public.

For example, if members of the public can enter your workplace – either for meetings or to purchase goods and services – all areas that can be accessed by the public should have density limits applied. This could include a front reception area and any meeting rooms.

The density limits do not need to be applied to areas which are only accessible by employees who are in frequent contact with each other, but employees should follow COVID safe practices that apply to the workplace. This could include maintaining appropriate distances between staff. Masks should be worn indoors except in an office where no other people are present, or when sitting or standing at a workstation where the employee is 1.5 metres away from any other person. Face masks must be worn as soon as a person is moving or is near another person.

The eased arrangements give workplaces the flexibility to assess risks and consider a COVID safe return to the workplace with their employees.

If your workplace has the flexibility to allow employees to continue to work from home this should be considered, particularly as students are gradually returning to school.

My business isn’t listed in the Public Health Direction, does that mean I can’t operate?

If your business type is not specifically listed in the Public Health Direction your business can operate under the following restrictions:

  • Employers must continue to allow staff to work from home if practical.
  • Staff can gradually return to the workplace where is suits employees and employers, and in accordance with the Public Health Direction.
  • Follow the core business restrictions.
  • For workplaces whose staff cannot reasonably work from home:
    • Businesses must meet their work, health, and safety obligations.
    • One person per four square metres must be applied to any areas of the businesses which are accessible to the public.
Reopening a business

What do I need to do to prepare to reopen my business?

If you are reopening your business after being closed during the lockdown you must:

  • Follow the core business restrictions.
  • Use the COVID-19 Safety Checklist to ensure you are satisfying the requirements under the Public Health Direction.
  • Educate your customers and staff on COVID-19 safe behaviours.
  • Download posters and signage to display in your premises.

More information about how to keep your business COVID safe is available on the Business Hub.

As a business owner, do I need to ask customers for proof of COVID-19 vaccination before they enter the venue?

No, this is not a requirement in the ACT.

Business operations

Can I have volunteers working in my essential business?

Yes, your business is identified as essential under the Public Health Direction, you can have paid workers or volunteers working in the business. You should ensure that all staff, including volunteers, are fully across the COVID safe measures in place for your business.

Can I operate an outdoor food market?

Yes, provided you have a Public Land Use Permit.

Can an interstate delivery service deliver goods to residences?

Yes, provided it is contactless. If the delivery driver is travelling from a COVID Affected Area, they should leave the ACT as soon as reasonably practical and should not enter any public places while in the ACT.

Can venues that operate outdoor sporting facilities (such as a golf course or bowling green) have 25 people within their indoor venue as well as operate the sporting facility outdoors?

A licenced premise can have 25 people across the indoor venue, or one person per four square metres (whichever is lesser), excluding staff. The sports areas can operate under organised sports restrictions, but they need to manage numbers, and avoid cross over.

Can we have live music in a venue?

Live music is allowed in venues, with artists not needing to be included in the patron count. The singer does not need to wear a mask while they are performing, but should try and be physically distanced (more than 1.5m) from patrons.

They should resume wearing a mask when they are finished performing.

Venues must adhere to the capacity limits. Patrons must remain seated when eating and drinking and dancing is not permitted.

Online orders

Can online businesses go into their warehouse/post office to fulfil orders?

Yes. Businesses should follow the relevant public health restrictions that are applicable to their business type.

Construction, Trades and Maintenance

What construction activities can go ahead?

Most construction activities are permitted in the ACT subject to strict adherence to ACT Building and Construction Industry COVID-19 Requirements. These requirements apply across all construction sites and sectors of the building and construction industry, including residential construction.

The following construction activities are permitted:

  • All construction, repair, and maintenance activities can take place other than indoor construction for occupied residential apartment complexes.
  • All residential construction (Class One Buildings as defined under the Construction Code) regardless of whether the property is occupied or unoccupied (in line with limits outlined below).
  • Concreting works for occupied and unoccupied premises with the minimum number of concreters required for work, health, and safety reasons.
  • Manufacturing, fabrication, testing, assembly, professional regulatory, off – site administrative and equipment supply activities necessary to facilitate permitted construction activities.

Residential Construction

For residential construction work;

  • No more than 10 workers on site at any one time, or one person per four square metres, whichever is the lesser, and
  • For occupied residences, a maximum of five workers are permitted to work indoors at any point in time.
  • There must be no interaction between workers and residents within the worksite or premises. If residents are at home while work is being carried out, they must always remain in a separate area.

Residential Construction – In occupied residential apartments

For residential construction at an occupied residential apartment:

  • Only outdoor construction works are permitted to take place; and
  • No more than 10 workers OR one person per four square metres, whichever is the lesser, can be onsite across the premises/worksite at any one time.

Urgent maintenance and other works can take place in occupied residential apartments where there are safety concerns.

Can we start new renovation projects?

Yes. Indoor renovation/construction works can commence (Class One Buildings as defined under the Construction Code), except indoors in residential apartments.

Indoor construction work must comply with the density limit of 10 people plus one supervisor at any point, OR one person per four square metres across the premises/worksite, whichever is the lesser.

Can tradespeople do maintenance work indoors in residential apartments for those impacted by domestic or family violence, such as to install security screens or alarms?

Yes, these are regarded as urgent works.

What does the sector need to do to stay safe?

Changes to the Public Health Direction allows for most construction to recommence in the ACT subject to strict adherence to the ACT Building and Construction COVID-19 Safety Requirements.

These requirements have been developed in consultation with industry and draw lessons from other jurisdictions.

These requirements intend to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by limiting the number of people that workers interact with and to ensure that COVID safe practices are adhered to.

It is recommended that employers apply a risk-based approach and implement practical controls based on the environment and specific hazards at each construction site to ensure the requirements are clear for each site.

Can tradies share tools/machinery?

Workers should avoid sharing tools, plant, plant rooms and equipment wherever possible. Where it is not possible, refer to section 3.11 of the ACT Building and Construction Industry COVID-19 Requirements for guidance.

How should workers and contractors arrive or swap on to a site?

This process must be part of the worksite’s COVID-Safety Plan and should include actions such as screening all workers onto a site and the use of the Check In CBR app. Refer to sections 3.2 and 3.3 of the ACT Building and Construction Industry COVID-19 Requirements for guidance.

Can I go to the tip?

Yes. Waste Management and Resource Recovery services are considered essential where services can be operated in a contactless manner.

What if I have questions?

Read the ACT Building and Construction Industry COVID-19 Requirements. If you have further questions, get in touch with your industry association or email Access Canberra at: ACBusinessTeam@act.gov.au

Services and activities

Can cleaning services operate?

Commercial and domestic cleaning services can resume.

  • Interaction between workers and residents should be minimised as far as possible.
  • Workers must wear a mask at all times.

Can a service provider perform services, such as gardening or cleaning, for NDIS clients or childcare centres?

Yes. These services can all resume in a COVID safe way. There is further advice on the advice for disability providers page.

Can commercial photography operate?

Yes. Commercial photography is permitted to go ahead. Businesses should develop a COVID Safety Plan and operate in accordance with their plans and with any relevant gathering restrictions.

Can legal services operate?

Yes. These services can resume in a COVID safe way.

Can I undergo First Aid and Safety Training?

Yes. These services can now resume in a COVID safe way.

Can I attend and water crops, in relation to plot holders and the communal gardens?

Yes. Attendance should be within the current gathering restrictions.

Real Estate

Can I run an open home or one-on-one inspections for sales or rentals?

In person house inspections are permitted by private appointment only.

Inspections by appointment need to be arranged in advance, and the agent or the salesperson must:

  • Ensure the vendor and all members of the household have left the residence.
  • Ensure only one client or people from the same household attend each appointment with one real estate agent.
  • Book appointments in intervals that provide sufficient time between each appointment to ensure there is no interaction between clients.
  • Sanitise any touch points between authorised inspections.
  • Ensure as far as possible that those attending have not travelled to a COVID-19 affected area in the last 14 days or are not required to quarantine or isolate.
  • Take all reasonable steps to ensure physical distancing at all times while with attendee/s and have a maximum occupancy of no more than one person per four square metres.
  • Confirm attendee/s have checked in using Check In CBR QR Code by asking attendee/s to show the green tick.
  • Remind those attending that they must not attend if they are feeling unwell.

On arrival at the property prior to any inspections commencing, the agent or the salesperson must:

  • Ensure no other person/s are present at the property
  • Be prepared to turn away passers-by without an appointment
  • Ventilate the property by opening windows and exit doors to allow maximum air flow
  • Display all required COVID signage including Check In CBR App QR Code
  • Have sanitiser and face masks available for attendee/s to use
  • Ensure all marketing material is provided electronically.

Can annual smoke detector inspections for rental properties occur?

Yes, annual inspections of smoke detectors for rental properties, as required by law, can occur.

Can I conduct routine physical appraisals or valuations of a property?

Yes. However, please remember:

  • Do not attend if you are unwell
  • Ensure all attendees wear a face mask
  • Take all reasonable steps to ensure attendees are physically distanced and there is no more than one person per four square metres at all times
  • Only include the minimum number of people necessary to complete the appraisal.

Can I conduct home styling?

Yes, property stylists may attend a residence to style it prior to sale, in accordance with gathering limits. You should only include the minimum number of people necessary to complete the appraisal.

Can I go into to a property to take photographs or video for a virtual tour?

Yes. When photographing or filming a property, ensure physical distancing is maintained at all times.

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Acknowledgement of Country

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the ACT, the Ngunnawal people. We acknowledge and respect their continuing culture and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region.

Last Updated: October 21 2021