If you need advice on regulations, operating your business through COVID-19, and ACT Government supports that are available call the Access Canberra Business Liaison Line on 6205 0900.
If you want access to four hours of free business advice about how you can diversify your business to cope with COVID-19, book a session with the Canberra Business Advice and Support Service on 6297 3121.
Organisations and employers who are responsible for a workplace or venue should be taking actions to reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus. For more information about the actions you should take, refer to the Australian Government’s COVID-19 information for employers.
This rapidly evolving situation unfolding across the country is unprecedented and having a significant impact on businesses in the ACT.
The ACT Government is committed to supporting our local businesses.
New measures to protect the community
The Australian Government has announced new measures to protect Australians from COVID-19. These measures include:
- the temporary closure of non-essential businesses and undertakings
- indoor and outdoor public gatherings, excluding household members, have been reduced to a maximum of two people. (Insert local info on enforcement information)
Exceptions to this limit include:
- People of the same household going out together
- Funerals - a maximum of 10 people
- Wedding - a maximum of 5 people
- Family units
Everyone should stay home unless for:
- shopping for what you need - food and necessary supplies
- medical or health care needs, including compassionate requirements
- exercise in compliance with the public gathering requirements
- work and study if you can’t work or learn remotely
Playgrounds, skate parks and outside gyms in public places are closed.
Bootcamps will be reduced to two persons, including the trainer.
People aged over 70, aged over 60 with pre-existing conditions, or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders aged over 50 should stay home wherever possible for their own protection.
More on these restrictions and what they mean can be found on the Outside the home page.
Advice to specific industries
- Access Canberra industry advice:
Supporting our community
The ACT Government is delivering a $137 million economic survival package to support the ACT community through the public health emergency caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The first phase of this multi-stage plan will aim to help small business, protect as many jobs as possible, support Canberra households and support our most vulnerable.
The Government will provide all appropriate resources to support ACT public health services to continue providing essential health services to the community and to respond to the additional demands of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This includes funding for respiratory assessment clinics, an increase in inpatient beds and ICU capacity across the Territory, maintenance of COVID-19 testing capacity and the purchase of additional medical equipment and supplies.
See what support may be available for you on the ACT COVID-19 economic survival package.
Information for workplaces
Employers have an obligation under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 work health and safety legislation to provide a safe workplace for their staff and for others who interact with that business or workplace.
Organisations and employers who are responsible for a workplace or venue should be taking actions to reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus. This includes considering flexible working arrangements where possible.
How to support your employees?
Employers should inform themselves of the current heath situation through the ACT Health website, and based on this information together with the specific activities of their business, conduct a risk assessment of their activities and modify their business practices based on their risk assessment outcomes. This risk assessment and outcomes should be regularly reviewed and updated as necessary based on the latest health advice.
Employers should ensure their workers undertake their own personal hygiene (hand washing, physical distancing, no handshakes etc), cleansing/disinfecting internal areas where they may need to do work or they interact with customers (such as desks, workbenches, tables, bathrooms or kitchens) and steps to minimise contact with people. If it is not possible to minimise contact with people, then their risk assessment may indicate that they should modify, postpone or cancel this work activity.
Should Canberra businesses be working from home?
Canberrans can still go to work, however the health advice on how to prevent the spread of germs in our community is clear – if employees are unwell, they should stay home.
Non-essential gatherings are currently limited – details on these limits for events and gatherings are available on our Outside the home page.
You will also find a list of prohibited business activities and exemptions in the section above.
We encourage local businesses and organisations to put in place sustainable measures in line with current health advice during what may be a prolonged situation.
Workplace hygiene information and resources
Businesses can take precautions to keep their staff healthy and reduce the spread of germs in the workplace. This includes:
- Supporting people to stay at home if they are vulnerable or sick and to work from home
- Holding meetings via video conferencing or phone call
- Deferring large meetings and holding essential meetings outside in the open air if possible
- Promoting good hand and sneeze/cough hygiene and providing hand sanitisers for all staff and workers
- Reconsidering non-essential business travel
- Promoting the strictest hygiene among food preparation (canteen) staff and their close contacts
- Considering if large gatherings can be rescheduled, staggered or cancelled
See our Resources page for posters and other resources to use in your business or workplace.
Working safely from home
The physical (social) distancing measures that have been implemented in the ACT may mean that many workers will be required to work from home, often at very short notice. Employers have a duty to ensure remote working environments such as in the employee’s home or elsewhere is healthy and safe.
Key factors to ensure employees can work safety from home include:
- Provide information to staff such as a checklist is assist them in setting up their workstations. The factors will vary depending on the type of work they are performing from home.
- Think about what equipment will be required by employees, both from a safety perspective and to ensure the employee is able to effectively work while offsite;
- Ensure your IT systems enable the ability to work from home (whether its conferencing or other collaborative tools) and employees know how to access and use these. Start training your staff in these now, and test these IT systems, particularly if they are new;
- Keep in contact with employees while working from home to ensure employees do not feel unduly isolated.
Mental health impacts of COVID-19
It’s normal to feel confused and uncertain about the future and an important aspect of coping is to recognise that you are not alone in how you feel.
Watching your mental health is vital during times of uncertainty, many people will be feeling distressed, and at times overwhelmed, by what is happening to them, their families and friends and their community.
A safety net package of $1.1 billion has been announced by the Prime Minister to expand mental health and telehealth services, increase domestic violence services and provide more emergency food relief.
You can also see our Mental health and wellbeing page for more information.
Where can I find further information?
See our Frequently Asked Questions page.
The Australian Government have also developed a range of industry specific advice to support businesses. Please refer to Department of Health - Coronavirus (COVID-19) resources.