To contribute to these outcomes, there are a number of COVIDSafe retail business support services available. These services are FREE and delivered by the ARA on behalf of the Victorian Government, Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions. The services provided are:
The ARA is offering a free one hour confidential virtual consultation to make sure your COVIDSafe plan is following best practice.
Use our confidential and quick self-assessment tool to find out if your business is being COVIDSafe, or where you may need to improve.
Join us in this webinar to explore the mandatory COVIDSafe requirements in Victoria, and hear from a small business retailer who has made the changes following support from the ARA.
Members and non-members are welcome to join any of our free webinar series sessions focussed on unpacking and simplifying the ever-changing COVID-19 business requirements. Discover how to make sure you’re meeting your obligations to provide a COVIDSafe environment for both staff and customers.
Webinar: Many VIC businesses think they're meeting mandatory COVIDSafe requirements. But they're not
Date: June 29 2021
Time: 10:00 AM Canberra, Melbourne,
The ARA is offering a free one hour virtual consultation to make sure your COVIDSafe plan is following best practice. All you need is an internet connection and your COVIDSafe plan - we’ll do the rest. Our team will provide guidance and tips to make sure you're operating inline with the most up-to-date requirements.
Information and templates for running a COVIDSafe business:
For a quick snapshot of key COVIDSafe knowledge, check out our tutorials below. We also have short courses available via the ARA Retail Institute:
ARA Retail Institute:
Partners in Wellbeing Services
Coronavirus (COVID-19) translated information for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, health professionals and industry. Information includes factsheets and promotional materials.
QR code record keeping requirements will now be mandatory in retail settings, like supermarkets and shops.
Retailers must use the Service Victoria QR Code Service.
The 15-minute threshold will also be removed so anyone entering a shop or a cafe will need to check-in, regardless of how long they visit the premises.
See the Department of Health website for more details.
*Information was current at the time of the recording, however changes to public health orders may have changed and up to date information should be sort by referring to the coronavirus.vic.gov.au website or contacting the ARA
Tips on how to achieve COVIDSafe best practice for Victorian businesses
The Australian Retailers Association (ARA) has received funding from the Victorian State Government Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions (DJPR) to deliver a project on COVID Safety for the retail trade sector. The project commenced in January 2021 and will continue through to August 2021.
All businesses need to know their obligations and ensure they understand the current restrictions in place throughout Victoria. To keep up to date on restriction levels in Victoria, regularly monitor the DHHS Victoria’s restriction levels webpage. The webpage includes current Workplace Directions and Workplace (Additional Industry Obligations) Directions. It is important to note that these Directions are subject to change on a regular basis.
ensure physical distancing (1.5 metres)
wear a face mask
practise good hygiene
keep good records and act quickly if staff become unwell
avoid interactions in close spaces
create workforce bubbles
It's mandatory for Victorian businesses with onsite operations to have a COVIDSafe plan
There is no change to your obligations under the Occupational Health and Safety Act 2004 (OHS Act) and Occupational Health and Safety Regulations 2017 (OHS Regulations) as a result of the restrictions.
Preparation of a COVIDSafe Plan forms part of the development of a safe system of work. However having a COVIDSafe Plan and complying with directions issued by the Victorian Chief Health Officer (CHO) does not necessarily mean you have complied with your duties under the OHS Act and OHS Regulations.
You must follow any health directions that apply to how your business must operate, and ensure that you are meeting your obligations under the OHS Act. Employees must also comply with their duties under the OHS Act.
For information on your OHS obligations in relation to managing coronavirus (COVID-19) risks, you can access WorkSafe Victoria’s Coronavirus (COVID-19) information for your industry:
Personal care and beauty: Managing coronavirus (COVID-19) risks: Personal care and beauty
Hospitality: Managing coronavirus (COVID-19) risks: Hospitality
Sector guidance has been prepared to assist workplaces to operate safely, in accordance with the changing of restrictions. Sector guidance is available for retail stores and retail service businesses within Victoria. You can view the sector guidance on the coronavirus.vic.gov.au website
For Frequently Asked Questions by businesses within the retail sector, view the Victorian Government Coronavirus Sector Guidance Retail Trade webpage here.
1.What is a COVIDSafe Plan?
The requirements of a COVIDSafe Plan are set out in section 1(2) of the Workplace Directions (WDs) No.33. (Will refer to these as the ‘current WDs’).
2. Do I need to document my COVIDSafe Plan?
Yes. See 1(2)(b) of the current WDs.
3. Do I have to use the Victorian Government COVIDSafe Plan template?
Use of the provided template is not mandatory but recommended. See section 1(2)(a)(note) of the current WDs.
4. How often do I need to review and update my COVIDSafe Plan?
The plan should be reviewed and updated regularly, as circumstances change or as required under section 1(5) of the current WDs.
5. Do I need to keep a printed copy of my COVIDSafe Plan at my work premises?
Effectively yes: everyone must comply with the CSP as per section 1(3) of the WDs and the easiest way to ensure this is to have the plan written down and easily available to everyone.
6. Is it mandatory to use the Victorian Government QR Code?
Yes – see section 1(6) of the current WDs. There are limited exceptions set out in section 1(11) of the current WDs but these are not relevant for retail businesses.
7. Do staff need to check-in using the QR Code?
Yes. Section 1(6) of the current WDs indicates that records must be kept of ‘all persons’.
8. Is there a requirement to check-out using the QR Code?
9. Where do I need to display the QR Code?
The QR Code should be displayed in a prominent location: see section 6(6)(e)(Note 1) of the current Workplace Directions.
10. Is there a requirement to have a different QR Code for each store/location?
Yes. There is a capacity to add locations (e.g. separate floor locations for a store spanning more than one floor) as part of the QR code registration process.
11. What do I do if a customer refuses to check-in using the QR Code?
There are options: (a) remind the customer of the purpose for which attendance records are collected, or (b) (optionally) refuse to serve the customer. Staff welfare is paramount and staff should adopt a course of action which protects their welfare. Businesses will not be fined if customers refuse to check in using the QR code service if a business has made a reasonable attempt at encouraging a customer to check in.
12. Can I check someone in, if they are unable to?
Yes. See section 1(7)(b) of the current WDs.
13. When manually recording a person's attendance at the workplace, what information must be recorded?
As per section 1(6) of the current WDs: first name, last name, phone number, time of attendance and area which attended (if there’s more than one). Paper-based methods should only be used as a last resort. Information must be transferred to an electronic database (e.g. using kiosk mode) as soon as practicable to preserve accurate time-stamp data.
14. What happens if staff leave the work premises and come back, do they need to check in again?
No defined rule here. Staff should use common sense about checking in after lunch, etc. If they’re working a ‘double shift’ (for example) checking in again could be beneficial. Contract tracers work with affected businesses to understand at-risk cohorts, including by understanding ‘who worked what shift’.
15.Can we modify the QR Code so that it reflects our branding?
Not advised because modification/rebranding of QR code may make it confusing for members of the public to understand that they’re looking at a QR code and need to use it. When QR codes are registered, standard format PDFs with QR code registration codes are included, and these should be used.
Density Quotient (DQs)
16. Do I include staff when calculating the density quotient?
In the current Restricted Activity Directions (Metro Melbourne) No. 4 (the ‘current metro RADs’) there are different density quotient (DQ) requirements depending on the setting. (Regional RADs in most cases will have similar or the same requirements.) In all cases it is advisable to check the latest Table of Restrictions for DQ-related information.
Section 12(3)(a) of the current metro RADs indicates that only ‘members of the public’ are to be included in the DQ calculation for a retail facility, including a hairdressing facility.
17. Do I include the entire work premises when calculating the density quotient?
The current RADs refer to DQ restrictions applying to ‘retail facilities’ e.g. see section 12 of the current RADs. ‘Facility’ is not defined but can include (for example) a very large area / whole food court in a shopping centre: see section 13(2)(g) of the current metro RADs.
18. I operate a beauty and personal care service, do I need to have a density quotient for each treatment room?
As the current metro RADs are now written, the density quotient requirement applies to whole facilities, not individual spaces. However, service providers should use common sense and comply with the ‘spirit’ of the RADs to ensure that the risk of being identified as a Tier 1 site (and potentially being unable to trade) is minimised etc.
19. Do I need to have a COVID Marshall to manage the density quotient?
20. Where do I need to display density quotient signage?
Compliance with the density quotient requirements is an obligation of anyone that ‘owns, controls or operates’ a relevant facility. So (for example) retail shop owners need to be aware of current density quotient limits and follow these, as they may be subject to enforcement action if DQs are not observed. DQs may change over time.
21. Are delivery drivers included in the density quotient?
Not clear, but service personnel directly connected to a business are unlikely to be considered ‘members of the public’ where that phrase is used to identify people that are counted within a DQ.
Hygiene & Cleaning
22.How often am I required to clean my work premises?
General cleaning requirements for retail facilities are set out in section 6(23)-(25) of the current WDs. There may be specific cleaning requirements for classes of facility set out elsewhere, including in the metro and regional RADs.
23.Are there approved cleaning products I should be using?
A disinfectant should be used: see section 6(24) of the current WDs.
24. Do I need to have a cleaning schedule prepared?
Under section 6(23) of the WDs, high-touched surfaces should be cleaned regularly. Regular cleaning could be achieved with the assistance of a cleaning schedule.
25. Do I need to keep a record of when cleaning is completed?
Cleaning records may be very useful to establish that a business has complied with the cleaning requirements (detailed above) by an authorised person under section 11 of the current WDs.
26. How often do I need to clean fitting rooms?
Not specified, but the answer should be considered in the context of section 6(23) and (for example) the need to clean high-touch surfaces at least twice on any given day.
27. Is there a requirement to complete COVID Infection Control Training?
28. Do customers need to wear face masks?
Requirements are set out in the current Table of Restrictions and change frequently.
29. Do staff need to wear face masks?
Requirements are set out in the current Table of Restrictions and change frequently.
30.Do I need to provide face masks to my staff?
No (as staff will be required to carry PPE with them) but having PPE that can be accessed by staff and provided by the workplace is advised.
31. Do I need to provide face masks to customers/visitors?
Not in retail locations.
32. Can we have product testers in our store?
Yes. ‘Testers’ may be regarded as ‘high-touch’ surfaces and should be cleaned regularly, as per the above advice and the current WDs.
33. Can my staff work across multiple stores/sites?
34. What records do I need to maintain to show where and when staff have worked?
Record requirements would be the same level of records that would be required where staff didn’t work across multiple sites. Likewise, staff working across sites should check in at those sites to enable contract tracing (if needed) to be undertaken efficiently and effectively.
35. What signage must I display at my work premises?
Shops should display QR code signage in a prominent location, similar to the requirement of section 6(6)(e)(Note 1) of the current WDs.