COVID-19 (Coronavirus) resources for business

The outbreak of COVID-19 (coronavirus) is causing economic disruption in many sectors including tourism and hospitality, education, property, resources, and international supply chains.

Updated 26 May 2020, 9.30am

 

Download our COVID-19 Employer Guide -
Managing the workplace in the face of the outbreak (Edition 4)

 

If your business is being affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) there are resources that can help. Please choose from the links below: 

This web page will be updated as new information becomes available. Please check back regularly to stay up-to-date with the latest advice for your business.

 

Businesses can now call a Business Victoria hotline on 13 22 15 for the latest information on the COVID-19 response, how this affects businesses, how to keep their workplace safe and advice on how to plan for dealing with the current situation and anticipate likely developments. The hotline can also provide information about support services and what financial assistance might be available.

COVID-19 Business restart services

Our Health, Safety and Wellbeing team have created a COVID-19 Business Restart Checklist (exclusively for members) that can help support businesses to restart safely once restrictions start to ease. There are two versions of this checklist - non-editable and editable - for you to customise based on your business needs. If you are not a member, please consider our free Essentials membership that will give you access to our tools and templates. Click for more information on what's included with Essentials membership.

Need some more support or want a more tailored service? Our Health, Safety and Wellbeing Consultants can help businesses to return to work safely, including a guide that can be customised for individual business needs.

All enquiries for purchasing the generic guide, tailoring the guide to your needs or accessing our Consulting services should be directed to 03 8662 5196 or hsw@victorianchamber.com.au

(Members: Please log in before downloading)

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Business restrictions

The Victorian Government have announced future easing to restrictions. Changes to these dates will be subject to the advice of the Chief Health Officer.

The Victorian Chamber’s Business Restart Services can help support businesses to restart safely.

Until the dates listed below, existing restrictions remain in place and are detailed in the directions issued by the Chief Health Officer.

 


Restaurants and cafes

From 11:59pm on 31 May:

  • Up to 20 seated patrons per enclosed space.
  • All venues must abide by physical distancing requirements. Limits will be placed on entry to comply with the density requirements allowed within a single space – one customer per four square metres.
  • Tables should be spaced at least 1.5m apart.
  • Venues are required to request contact details, first name and phone number, of every customer to assist in rapid contact tracing other safety precautions will also be required, including extra cleaning. Staff should not work when unwell.

From 11.59 on 21 June this will increase to 50 patrons per enclosed space. A further increase of up to 100 patrons per enclosed space is planned for the second half of July.

See restaurant and cafe FAQs

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Shopping, retail and personal services

  • Beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, nail salons, spas, tattoo parlours and massage parlours can now open with up to 20 patrons – the four square metre rule will apply to the publicly accessible parts of the venue, and a distance of 1.5metre should be maintained between customers.
  • Non-food and drink market stalls may open – the four square metre rule applies to indoor markets and a distance of 1.5metre should be maintained between people who do not live in the same household.
  • Auction houses, real estate auctions and open house inspections increase to 20 people plus the minimum number reasonably required to facilitate.
  • Other retail outlets may continue to operate; the four square metre rule applies to customers, and a distance of 1.5m should be maintained between people who do not live in the same household.

See shopping, retail and personal services FAQs

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Sport and exercise

From 11:59pm on 31 May:

  • Up to 20 people can participate in outdoor group sport and exercise activities, provided you can keep your distance (at least 1.5 metres apart) and they are not competitive.
  • Up to 20 people can use public playgrounds, outdoor gyms and skateparks
  • Indoor and outdoor swimming pools can be opened to a maximum of 20 patrons per separate enclosed space and a limit of 3 persons per lane in each pool.

From 22 June 2020:

  • Indoor sports centres and venues can be opened with up to 20 people allowed per separate enclosed space, subject to the four square metre rule and up to 10 people per group/activity
  • Indoor physical recreation (e.g. gyms, health clubs, class fitness studios) can be opened with up to 20 people allowed per separate enclosed space, subject to the four square metre rule and up to 10 people per group/activity
  • Indoor and outdoor swimming pools will remain at a maximum of 20 patrons per separate enclosed space, subject to the four square metre rule calculated on the publicly accessible area excluding the pool and a limit of 3 persons per lane in each pool.
  • The ski season can open following work with industry to develop plans so people can enjoy skiing facilities and resort venues safely.

See sport and exercise FAQs

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Travel and accommodation

From 11:59pm on 31 May:

  • Overnight stays in private residences and holiday homes allowed.
  • Overnight stays in tourist accommodation, including caravan parks and camping grounds, allowed where there are no shared communal facilities (e.g. kitchens and bathrooms).
  • Tourist accommodation can open to guests provided there are no shared communal facilities such as kitchens or bathrooms.

See travel and accommodation FAQs

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Entertainment and culture

From 11:59pm on 31 May:

  • Galleries, museums, national institutions and historic sites up to 20 customers allowed per separate space, while ensuring that physical distancing requirements of one person per four square metres is applied.
  • Outdoor amusement parks, zoos and arcades, up to 20 customers allowed per separate space while ensuring physical distancing requirements of one person per four square metres is applied, with additional restrictions, to ensure customers don’t gather in particular high use areas.
  • Drive-in cinemas will be able to operate subject to any food and drink operations meeting the same requirements for other cafes, restaurants and take-away outlets.

From 11:59pm on 21 June:

  • Cinema complexes and movie theatres, up to 50 customers allowed to watch a movie per cinema. Customers who are not from the same household should be seated at least 1.5metres from other customers in the cinema. Four square metre rule applies.
  • Concert venues, theatres, up to 50 seated people allowed per separate space. People who are not from the same household should be seated at least 1.5metres from other people in the venue. Four square metre rule applies.
  • Galleries, museums, national institutions and historic sites up to 50 visitors allowed per separate space, while ensuring that density requirements of one person per four square metres is applied.
  • Outdoor amusement parks, zoos and arcades, up to 50 customers allowed per separate space while ensuring that that physical distancing requirements of one person per four square metres is applied, with additional restrictions, to ensure customers don’t gather in particular high use areas.

See entertainment and culture FAQs

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Community Services

From 11:59pm on 31 May:

  • Libraries are permitted to open, with no more than 20 people allowed in each separate space, subject to the four square metre rule, in addition to those required to operate the library.
  • Community facilities (eg RSL clubs, community halls, youth centres, PCYCs) are permitted to open with no more than 20 people allowed in each separate space, subject to the four square metre rule, in addition to those required to operate the facility. Indoor sporting facilities within these facilities continue to be closed. Cafes and restaurants within these facilities must adhere to the restrictions on cafes and restaurants.

See community services FAQs

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Social gatherings

From 11:59pm on 31 May:

  • Private gatherings may increase to a total of 20 people, including members of the household.
  • Public gatherings, both indoor and outdoor, will increase to 20 people.

See social gatherings FAQs

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Religion and ceremony

From 11:59pm on 31 May:

  • Weddings can have 20 guests, plus the celebrant and the couple.
  • 50 people can attend a funeral in addition to the officiant and funeral staff, subject to the four square metre rule. If a funeral is held in a home, a maximum of 20 people can be present (including the officiant and funeral staff).
  • Private worship or small religious ceremonies may have up to 20 people, plus the people reasonably required for the ceremony.

See religion and ceremony FAQs

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Work and study

As the restrictions start to ease, Victorians need to continue to:

  • Work from home, if you can.
  • From 26 May 2020 primary school and high school students will start a staged return to school.
  • University, college, and TAFE students should continue to learn from home if you can.
  • Employers should continue to provide flexible work arrangements, encourage their employees to work from home, ensure hygiene standards and provide necessary physical distancing in all workplaces.

See work and study FAQs

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Existing restrictions

There are five reasons Victorians can leave home:

  1. shop for food and other necessary goods and services
  2. access medical services or provide caregiving – for example, this includes shared parenting obligations or providing care and support to an unwell, disabled, elderly or pregnant friend or relative
  3. attend work or education where these cannot be done from home
  4. exercise and participate in some recreational activities adhering to the rules
  5. visit friends, family and loved ones while adhering to the rules.

Shopping, retail and food restrictions remain in place until 1 June.

Outdoor gatherings up of to 10 people are allowed and outdoor fitness activities such as boot camp, personal training, tai chi and yoga can be undertaken outdoors as long as physical distancing of 1.5m between participants is maintained and group limits are observed.

Golf can also be played in groups of no more than 10 people. Golf clubhouses remain subject to restrictions.

Restrictions remain in place for indoor physical training facilities.

From 11:59pm 25 May: public playgrounds, outdoor communal gym equipment and skateparks can be opened with physical distancing of 1.5m between participants to be maintained and group limits of no more than 10 people participating at one time, remain in place.

For all businesses not subject to restricted trading, physical distance and increased hygiene measures should be undertaken to reduce the risk of transmission of coronavirus.

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Up to date health information and guidance

Visit the Australian Government Coronavirus (COVID-19) health alert for national information and the Victorian Government Department of Health and Human Services for the latest Victorian numbers and instructions.

See the Victorian Chamber’s advice on protecting your employees.

The Department of Health and Human Services Victoria has translated COVID-19 resources like factsheets and promotional materials for people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds. If you need an interpreter, please call the Translating and Interpreting Services on 131 450.

You can also find a collection of coronavirus (COVID-19) resources in English, Simplified Chinese and other languages at the Australian Government Department of Health. As well as sector specific information for the travel, transport and hotel industries.

Learn about the COVIDSafe app which speeds up contacting people exposed to coronavirus (COVID-19) and the Australian Government WhatsApp channel for COVID-19.

For current travel advice check the Smart Traveller website

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Workplace impacts

We encourage employees and employers to work together to find appropriate solutions that suit the needs of individual workplaces and staff.

For information and assistance on any aspect of your employment obligations, the Victorian Chamber Workplace Relations Advice Line (03) 8662 5222 can help.

Member-only resources are also available for download as documented in our article Workplace Relations COVID-19 Documentation.


Working from home

A working from home assessment doesn’t just stop at the workstation set up. It should also include the general home layout and functions such as entry and exit points, first aid and emergency management. Our Health Safety and Wellbeing consultants can perform home workstation assessments for your employees to ensure that their home set up is set up correctly to reduce the risk of injury, ensure they have the correct equipment to work comfortably. When employees work from home, this becomes their workplace – and employers must manage hazards and risks at their home as if they are on site.

If you have any questions around ergonomics and workstation assessments or procedures contact us online or call 03 8662 5333.


WorkSafe Victoria

WorkSafe Victoria are working as part of a whole-of-government approach to mitigate the risk of Coronavirus in Victoria.

As part of this approach, WorkSafe Victoria have produced guidance to ensure that employers understand their obligations in relation to protecting employees from risks to their health, and that employees know what controls should be in place.

Where there is a risk to health and is identified at the workplace, employers must, so far as reasonably practicable, eliminate the risks or minimise the risks. The type of control measure required depends on the level of risk and as well as the availability and suitability of controls for each workplace.

This may include providing adequate facilities or products such as hand sanitizers to allow employees to maintain good hygiene practices, advise employees to self-isolate at home for 14 days if they have been in contact with confirmed cases of novel coronavirus.

The following information includes links regarding Coronavirus:

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Rent relief

The Chamber has also been calling on commercial landlords to reduce rent and defer payments for affected businesses.

On 7 April 2020, the Federal Government announced a mandatory Code of Conduct on SME commercial leasing principles during COVID-19.

The Code imposes a set of good faith leasing principles and applies to all tenancies that are suffering financial stress or hardship as a result of the coronavirus crisis as defined by their eligibility for the Federal Government’s JobKeeper payment, with an annual turnover of up to $50 million.

The key elements of the code are:

  • Rent is reduced in proportion to the reduction in the tenant’s turnover.
  • Rent relief may be provided through both rental waivers and deferrals on the condition that at least 50 percent is in the form of a waiver and any deferral is recovered over the term of the lease, or at least 12 months if the lease is shorter than 12 months.
  • The arrangements agreed to by the landlord and tenant will be subject to a binding mediation process and mandatory code of conduct overseen by state and territory governments.
  • Support for landlords is expected to be provided by banks.

Read the Code here.

If you are having difficulty paying rent due to the impact of coronavirus and you meet the eligibility requirements of the JobKeeper payment, you should contact your landlord to negotiate rent relief under the code. The Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) offers advice and mediation services and may be able to help you negotiate an agreement or settle a dispute.

If a landlord provides tenants impacted by coronavirus with rent relief, they will be eligible for a 25 per cent discount on their land tax, while any remaining land tax can be deferred until March 2021. For more information visit sro.vic.gov.au/coronavirus

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Financial impacts

If the impacts of Coronavirus (COVID-19) are causing financial hardship for your business or for you personally, your bank has practical ways they can help. Australian banks have agreed to defer repayments on loans to small businesses affected by the coronavirus outbreak for six months. They also have hardship teams ready to assist you with your business and personal financial arrangements, depending on your circumstances. Visit the Australian Banking Association website for more information. 

The ATO will provide administrative relief for certain tax obligations (similar to relief provided following the bushfires) for taxpayers affected by the Coronavirus outbreak, on a case-by-case basis. Contact the ATO on 1800 806 218 or visit the ATO website at ato.gov.au for more information.

People unable to attend work because they have been diagnosed with the Coronavirus, need to self-isolate, or whose income has been impacted by the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus, may be eligible for income support payments. The Government is making these payments quicker to access by waiving the usual waiting period in certain circumstances. Visit the Services Australia website for more information or to apply.

It’s important to look after yourself during this stressful time. Stress savvy in business and Beyond Blue’s Heads Up offer resources to help you look after your own mental health and manage mental health issues in the workplace, including advice specifically for small business owners.

Support for you, your staff and family members is also available from Lifeline (13 11 14) and Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636 or online chat) or at any of these services.

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Government economic rescue measures

The Federal, Victorian and some local governments have announced measures to help business continue operating. Information on what these mean for members can be found on our dedicated webpage.

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Trade and export assistance

The Australian Government has established a $500 million COVID-19 Export Capital Facility to assist previously profitable Australian exporters whose businesses have been impacted by COVID-19. Eligible applicants can access between $250,000 and $50 million through COVID-19 Export Capital Facility. Security requirements will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. Please see our fact sheet (link to attached document) for more information and details on how to apply.

The Australian Government’s Export Finance and Insurance Corporation (EFIC) provide Australian businesses with export finance solutions and may be able to assist. They provide export loans, guarantees, bonds and buyer finance solutions help businesses access finance.

The Victorian Chamber’s international consulting services can guide you through the global marketplace, providing support, strategies and practical advice.

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Other resources

The Small Business Mentoring Service offers low-cost sessions with a diverse range of mentors that can help you to navigate difficult business decisions, prepare business continuity plans, review your business strategy or revise your business plans. Or a free 45-minute session with an experienced business adviser is available via the Small Business Bus.

See your local Victorian Government Business Office (VGBO) - staffed with Business Development Managers (BDMs) who are specialists in business and industry, they can support you and help you navigate any relevant government services, programs and regulations. 

COVIDSafe app

The Australian Government has developed a COVIDSafe app which is designed to help slow the spread of COVID-19. The COVIDSafe app speeds up the current manual process of finding people who have been in close contact with someone with COVID-19. People who have downloaded the app will be contacted more quickly if they are at risk. The ability to locate and contain outbreaks quickly will help governments ease restrictions while keeping Australians safe. The app is voluntary and the information contained in the information storage system will be destroyed at the end of the pandemic. More information, including the CovidSafe Privacy Policy, can be found at health.gov.au

 

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Contact us

For general enquiries, please call us or contact us online.

03 8662 5333

info@victorianchamber.com.au

Contact details

To help navigate the bushfire and COVID-19 crises, we have waived membership fees for any new entry level membership. Find out more: