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 7 August 2020, 1.00pm

 

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.

Business restrictions - Metropolitan Melbourne

We are updating the Stage 4 restriction details for Metropolitan Melbourne as they are announced. Please check the date and time under each section below to see when the information was last updated.


Stage 4 restrictions commenced at 6pm on Sunday 2 August for metropolitan Melbourne. These changes will be in place for at least six weeks until Sunday 13 September. 

  • The metropolitan Melbourne LGAs are: Banyule, Hume, Moreland, Bayside, Kingston, Mornington Peninsula, Boroondara, Knox, Nillumbik, Brimbank, Manningham, Port Phillip, Cardinia, Maribyrnong, Stonnington, Casey, Maroondah, Whitehorse, Darebin, Melbourne, Whittlesea, Frankston, Melton, Wyndham, Glen Eira, Monash, Yarra, Greater Dandenong , Moonee Valley, Yarra Ranges, Hobsons Bay.

 


Industry restrictions

On Monday 3 August, the Premier announced further restrictions for Victorian businesses.

Under Stage 4 ‘Stay at Home’ Restrictions the default is that workplaces in metropolitan Melbourne are closed unless the workplace is part of a permitted industry as set out in the below document provided by the Victorian Government.

Unless an exception applies, only ‘Permitted Work Premises’ may operate with on-site operations during the restricted activity period and only to the extent permitted.

At 11:59pm on Wednesday 5 August, a document detailing ‘Permitted Work Premises’ was released. Further information is available here. Sector specific information is also available here

To avoid doubt, the following are ‘Permitted Work Premises’ in the following circumstances:

  • Ancillary and support businesses are able to open on-site to ensure the necessary production, supply, manufacture, repair, maintenance, cleaning, security, wholesale, distribution, transportation or sale of equipment, goods or services required for the operations of a Permitted Work Premises, or for Closed Work Premises where there are safety or environmental obligations. The business cannot operate on-site for any other purpose.
  • Services and ancillary services that relate to the COVID-19 health response are Permitted Work Premises.
  • Services connected with animal health, husbandry or welfare, including the RSPCA, are Permitted Work Premises.
  • Union/peak body/employer organisation officials attending a worksite as permitted by law or for Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) advice is permitted.

All open businesses and services will have until 11:59pm Friday 7 August to enact a COVID-Safe Plan focused on safety, prevention and response in the event that coronavirus is linked to the workplace.

For those businesses where onsite operations will have to cease until 13 September, including retail, some manufacturing and administration, they will need to close by 11:59pm Wednesday 5 August, unless they have specific circumstances that mean they need longer to shutdown safely.

For businesses and industries that fall into grey areas when it comes to their operation, the dedicated Industry Coordination Centre within the Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions will consider their case. They can be contacted through the Business Victoria hotline on 13 22 15.

Updated 6 August 2020, 4.15pm

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Employer obligations (inc. COVID-Safe Plan information)

All open businesses and services will have until 11:59pm Friday 7 August to enact a COVID-Safe Plan focused on safety, prevention and response in the event that coronavirus is linked to the workplace.

For COVID-Safe Plans templates and further information on employer obligations visit Business Victoria.

Under the Stage 4 restrictions, workplaces that remain open must:

  • Have a COVID-Safe Plan in place that is regularly updated (unless you are a small business with fewer than five employees)
  • Ensure that any workers who can work from home are able to do so
  • Collect records of all workers, subcontractors, customers and clients attending the work premises for 15 minutes or longer (certain exemptions will apply)
  • One worker per four square metres of enclosed workspace or in shared areas
  • Unless an exemption applies, ensure that workers do not work across multiple sites, or for multiple employers
  • Ensure that workers are in good health - workers cannot work if they are unwell and employers must not require workers with symptoms to work
  • If your worker is unwell, send them home and direct them to be tested. They must stay home until they have their result
  • Report any positive cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) to DHHS, Worksafe, Health and Safety Representatives, and notify your workforce
  • Regularly clean your facilities, shared spaces and provide additional cleaning supplies
  • Undertake risk assessments for cleaning and the potential closure of your workplace in certain situations

This information is subject to the directions of Victoria’s Chief Health Officer.

Updated 5 August 2020, 5.15pm

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Travel (inc. Worker Permit and Childcare Permit information)

  • From 11:59pm Wednesday 5 August in Melbourne, employers that require their staff to attend a work site must issue a worker permit to their employees. Guidelines and the permit document are available from the Business Victoria. You can also download the document from our link below.
  • From Thursday 6 August in Melbourne, only the children of permitted workers will be able to access childcare and kinder. For workers who need to work on-site you need to fill out the Permitted Worker Permit (including childcare) form. For workers working from home, you need to fill out the Access to Childcare and Kinder (Working from Home) form. Both are available to download via the links below with guidelines available from Business Victoria.
  • If you live in metropolitan Melbourne you should be staying at home. From 6pm on Sunday 2 August, you must stay at home and you will not be able to travel more than 5km from you home, unless it is for work, medical care or caregiving. 
  • If you are unsure of how far 5km from your home is, you can access this website for a visual representation.

Updated 6 August 2020, 12.15pm

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Reasons to leave your house

  • From 2 August, a curfew will be in place in metropolitan Melbourne. Curfews will be in operation from 8pm to 5am every evening, with people only allowed to leave their house for work, and essential health, care or safety reasons.
  • Stay at home, except for four reasons:
    • To shop for necessary goods and services
      • You can only travel up to 5km from your home.
      • Only one person per household can leave home to get necessary goods and services and only once a day (this means you can’t do multiple shopping trips in a day).
    • To provide care, for compassionate reasons or to seek medical treatment
    • To exercise
      • You must not travel more than 5km from where you live to exercise.
      • You can exercise with one other person you live with or a friend or family member, as long as neither of you travel more than 5km from your home.
      • You must limit your exercise to once a day and for only one hour.
    • For work or study, if you can’t do it from home

    Further information can be found here

Updated 3 August 2020, 1.15pm

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Face coverings

Everyone must wear a mask when they leave home, unless an exception applies. They include when a person is travelling in a vehicle by themselves, when entering or inside a financial institution or when consuming food, drink or when smoking. A list of exceptions can be found here.

This came into effect for metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire LGA on Wednesday 22 July and is enforceable across regional Victoria from 11:59pm on Sunday 2 August. A face covering must be worn at work, unless an exception applies. The fine for not wearing a face covering for individuals will be $200.

As an employer you are required to ensure your employees wear face coverings unless an exception applies. Further information about wearing masks in a workplaces can be found here. 

Individuals must carry a face covering with them when leaving home for one of the four reasons, even if they don’t need to wear it while undertaking an exempt activity.

Updated 3 August 2020, 1.15pm

 

Do you manufacture PPE equipment and want to be included on the Victorian Government’s database?

Local PPE manufacturers can register their interest and capability directly on to the Victorian Government’s online portal.

In addition, if your business would like to be listed on a supplier directory of PPE equipment, you can register this by contacting the Victorian Government’s dedicated email address: medicalPPEsupplies@djpr.vic.gov.au.

If your business manufactures face masks and is interested in being included on the Victorian Government’s Mask Manufacturers Directory, this can be arranged by contacting the above email address too. 

 

Confused around the recent changes to laws and face masks? Keep your employees and business safe with our COVID-19 guide to face masks:

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Gatherings of people

  • Private: no visitors.
  • Public: up to 2 people or household members only.

Updated 30 July 2020, 5.15pm

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Schools

  • Across Victoria all students will return to remote learning from 11:59pm on Tuesday 4 August.
  • Schools will still be open for vulnerable students and students whose parents are permitted workers.
  • From 11:59pm on Wednesday 5 August, kindergarten and early childhood centres in metropolitan Melbourne will only be open for vulnerable children and children whose parents are permitted workers.

Updated 3 August 2020, 1.15pm

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Sporting activities

  • You can exercise outside within 5km of your home. This means you can still walk, cycle, run, do yoga or a workout in the park.
  • All indoor and outdoor sport facilities are closed.

Updated 3 August 2020, 1.15pm

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Ceremonies

  • If you live in metropolitan Melbourne you are not permitted to participate in a marriage ceremony, unless you have a reason on compassionate grounds.
  • Funerals: up to 10 people can attend

Updated 3 August 2020, 1.15pm

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Business Support

Introduction of Stage 4 restrictions means that many businesses will have to operate in a limited capacity or can no longer operate.

To support businesses impacted by these restrictions, one-off grants will be made available to eligible businesses under the Business Support Fund – Expansion program:

  • $10,000 for employing businesses in metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire in recognition of spending longer under restrictions
  • $5,000 for employing businesses in regional local government areas (except Mitchell Shire)

Businesses which have already received a BSFe grant, or have applied for one, will not need to re-apply. Successful applicants will automatically receive this additional allocation.

Applications for the program will be extended until 14 September 2020.

This support is in addition to the $534 million Business Support Package announced on 10 July 2020.

To apply for the Business Support Fund extension grants, visit Business Victoria.

Details of all the Victorian and Federal Government rescue measures is available here

Updated 4 August 2020, 11.00am

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Business restrictions - Regional Victoria

We are updating the Stage 3 restriction details for regional Victoria as they are confirmed. Please check the date and time under each section below to see when the information was last updated.

From 11:59pm on Wednesday 5 August, Stage 3 Stay at Home restrictions apply in Victoria, except if you live in metropolitan Melbourne where Stage 4 restrictions apply.

Future changes are subject to the advice of the Chief Health Officer.

If you live in regional Victoria, including Mitchell Shire, there are only four reasons that you can leave home:

  • to shop for food and essential goods or services
  • to provide care, for compassionate reasons or to seek medical treatment
  • to exercise or for outdoor recreation with your household, or one other person
  • for work or study, if you can’t do it from home

You may no longer have visitors to your home or visit other people in their homes.

From Sunday 2 August at 11:59pm, a face covering will be mandatory for all individuals across the State whenever they leave home. The Premier’s Statement is available here

Detailed information on all of the restrictions listed below can be found on the Department of Health and Human Services website, or Business Victoria website with specific details in the Stay at Home Directions (non-Melbourne)

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

 


Working from home directive

  • If your staff can work from home, they must work from home – you must not permit them to work at your workplace.
  • However, if they cannot do their work from home, they can go to work. When at work, they should maintain physical distancing by keeping at least 1.5 metres between them and others and practice good hygiene.
  • All Victorians must wear a face covering when they leave home, this includes wearing a face covering while at work, unless they have a lawful reason for not doing so. This also includes when they are travelling for work purposes, for example either to or from work on public transport or in shared cars with people outside their household. 
  • Unwell staff must stay at home. You should actively encourage them to do so.

There are heavy fines for failing to comply with directions issued by the Chief Health Officer

Access member only resources that can help you keep workers safe on site or at home. 

If you need more support contact our Health, Safety and Wellbeing team:

03 8662 5196 
HSW@victorianchamber.com.au
Online enquiries

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

03 8662 5222

Updated 7 August 2020, 9.30am

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Warehousing and distribution centres

From 11:59 pm on Friday 7 August the following changes will need to be adopted by Victorian warehouse and distribution centres.

Each warehouse and distribution centres will:

  • enact a High Risk COVID Safe Plan focused on safety, prevention and response if coronavirus cases are linked to their workplace
  • reduce the number of people in the workplace
  • increase the regularity of deep cleaning
  • enforce the wearing of face coverings by staff on site
  • where practicable COVID Safe Plans should be designed with input from employees and their representatives

Employees will be:

  • prohibited from car-pooling to and from work
  • able to work at only one premises
  • required to inform their employer if they share accommodation with anyone working at another high-risk workplace.

This applies to all warehouses across Victoria except supermarket businesses and businesses supplying medicine, pharmaceuticals and personal protective equipment, who are under different requirements.

Further information is available here

Updated 7 August 2020, 9.30am

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Restaurants and cafes

From 11:59pm on Wednesday 5 August:

  • Restaurants and cafes can continue to open for takeaway and delivery only.
  • Food courts will continue to be closed, but restaurants and cafes within food courts can open for takeaway and food delivery.
  • Pubs, bars, clubs and nightclubs will be closed. They can offer takeaway or home delivery of food and alcohol only.
  • Bottle shops remain open.

Updated 7 August 2020, 9.30am

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Personal services

From 11:59pm on Wednesday 5 August:

  • Beauty therapy, tanning, waxing, nail salons, spas, tattoo parlours and massage parlours must not operate.
  • Hairdressing businesses can operate, provided they comply with requirements for record keeping.

Further information is available here.

Updated 7 August 2020, 9.30am

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Sport and exercise

From 11:59pm on Wednesday 5 August, if you live in regional Victoria the following activities are restricted:

  • You can only exercise or undertake sporting activities outside with one other person or your household members. You must be able to keep at least 1.5 metres distance between yourself and others.
  • Indoor sports centres including gyms, training facilities and pools are closed.
  • Community sport training and competition cannot occur.
  • Some outdoor sport facilities are closed.
  • Personal training outdoors can occur but with a limit of two participants, plus the instructor.
  • Swimming pools are closed.
  • Outdoor sport facilities – such as golf courses and tennis courts - can open if people can exercise outside, equipment is not shared or rented, no indoor facilities or shared facilities (except toilets) are used, and people must be able to keep 1.5 metres distance between each other. No more than two people per group, unless they are members of the same household.

Further information is available here

Updated 7 August 2020, 9.30am

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Travel and accommodation

From 11:59pm, 5 August 2020 if you live in regional Victoria, Stage 3 Stay at Home restrictions apply. You must not travel into metropolitan Melbourne under Stage 4 restrictions, except to buy necessary goods and services, for care and compassionate reasons or permitted work, and provided you comply with the Stage 4 restrictions.

The return to Stage 3 Stay at Home restrictions means you are not allowed to travel unless it is for work or study (if you cannot do these things from home), caregiving, seeking medical care or to visit your intimate partner.

The return to Stage 3 Stay at Home restrictions means you will have to cancel travel bookings, unless you are travelling for one of the four reasons that you can leave home (for example to receive medical care).

Further information is available here

Updated 7 August 2020, 9.30am

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Entertainment and culture

From 11:59pm on Wednesday 5 August, Stage 3 ‘Stay at Home’ restrictions apply in regional Victoria and remain in Mitchell Shire, entertainment and cultural venues will also close, including:

  • galleries, museums, national institutions and historic sites
  • zoos, wildlife parks, petting zoos, aquariums and animal farms
  • outdoor amusement parks and outdoor arcades
  • indoor cinemas and drive-in cinemas
  • concert venues, theatres and auditoriums.

Further information is available here

Updated 7 August 2020, 9.30am

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COVID-19 Business restart services

Our Health, Safety and Wellbeing team have created a number of resources to help your business restart safely as restrictions start to ease. They range from checklists and guides to consulting services, which can all be customised, so there’s something for every business. Visit our COVID-19 Business Restart services page to learn more.

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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.

On 7 August 2020 the Federal Government announced an extension to the JobKeeper payment.

Member-only resources are also available for download via our tools and templates portal.


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.

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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

Apply for a COVID-19 NSW border entry permit

From 8 July, you’ll need a border entry permit to travel from Victoria to NSW, except if you’re entering NSW:

  • as an emergency or law enforcement services worker
  • for medical or hospital services
  • to avoid injury or escape a risk of harm
  • to attend court or to meet other legal obligations.

Both adults and children are required to get a permit to travel from Victoria to NSW.

You can apply for a permit online here.

nbn information resources

Is your business using nbn or about to be? Click here to download valuable resources from nbn.

Transurban Linkt

If financial or social challenges are making it hard to manage toll payments, Linkt can help. Their confidential support is adapted to your changing needs, head to the website to find out more.

 

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