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How to Make Your Retail or Hospitality Business COVID Safe

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This article is for educational purposes and does not constitute legal or medical advice. For specific advice applicable to your business, please contact a professional.

COVID-19 has transformed the way we live, work and run our businesses. As most Australian states and territories ease restrictions, retail and hospitality businesses are now adapting to a “COVID Safe” operating model and developing their COVID-19 Safety Plan. This is designed to help protect their teams, customers and our communities from the spread of the virus.

From implementing initiatives like providing sanitiser stations at entry and exit points, to on-site physical distancing and comprehensive contact tracing processes, there are many new challenges for shops, bars, cafés and restaurants to navigate in order to become COVID Safe.

What is a COVID Safe business?

To be a COVID Safe business you must complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan and register with your state or territory as a COVID Safe business.

Depending on your industry and where your business operates, it may be mandatory for you to register as a COVID Safe business. Visit the Australian Government COVID-19 Resource Hub for detailed information about the requirements that apply to your business.

What is a COVID-19 Safety Plan?

A COVID-19 Safety Plan is a targeted workplace health and safety plan that builds on your business’s safe work practices to keep employees, customers and visitors safe.

This starts with a detailed risk assessment of aspects including hygiene and safety, physical distancing, recording contact details of staff and customers, and staff wellbeing. Creating your plan will help you to work through how you can reconfigure your operations to adapt to ongoing restrictions, prevent infection at your site, and respond appropriately if there’s a COVID-19 case that impacts your business.

Visit the Australian Government website for more information about COVID-19 Safety Plans for retail and hospitality businesses.

Why is becoming a COVID Safe business important?

COVID-19 could be with us for some time, so it’s crucial that businesses have a documented plan to keep their workplace safe and virus free.

A COVID Safety Plan gives your team and customers confidence that you’re taking their health and safety seriously. Taking a planned approach to managing infection risk reduces the likelihood of virus transmission happening at your workplace, giving you the best chance of avoiding potential shutdowns, loss of operating income and damage to your business’s reputation.

How to display your COVID-Safe credentials

The Federal Government is providing a range of free customisable materials that you can display at your workplace to show you’re COVID Safe. Generic posters, stickers and social media templates, along with COVID Safe materials specific to cafés, bars, restaurants and retail outlets are downloadable from the Australian Government website.

How to set up and maintain effective COVID-19 contact tracing

Our public health services are using contact tracing as a key tool in slowing the spread of the coronavirus. Many businesses are now required to record the first name and phone number of each person who attends their premises for more than 15 minutes, alongside the date and time that person was on site. This requirement applies to staff, customers, maintenance and delivery workers.

To make sure that these contact details are collected consistently, it’s a good idea to create a simple contact tracing sheet that’s kept at your business’s entry points. Ask those completing the form to sanitise their hands before signing in and use an alcohol wipe to clean the pen after use. If you’re recording site attendance electronically, you should wipe down the keyboard or touchpad between users. You should also be sure to manage the personal information that you collect in accordance with all applicable privacy laws, some guidance has been published by the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner which may be relevant to your business.

The amount of time the information from your contact tracing register must be held varies by state (eg. For VIC and NSW it must be held for 28 days). The details may be used by government contact tracers to assess exposure to any confirmed COVID-19 cases. Be sure to check your local government resources for relevant information.

What should I do if one of my employees has COVID-19?

Your COVID Safety Plan should cover the steps you’ll need to take if there’s a positive COVID-19 case at your business. Safe Work Australia has created a helpful infographic to step you through the process.

How to promote a safe experience in your venue or store

There are a number of ways you can promote and maintain a safe experience for your team and customers that go beyond the basics of your COVID-Safety Plan. Some of the common changes retail and hospitality businesses are making to be COVID Safe include:

  • placing sanitiser stands at entry and exit points
  • displaying visual guides to support physical distancing
  • installing sneeze guards at registers
  • providing masks for team members
  • requesting cashless payment and making sure the business is set up to accept contactless payments
  • cleaning and sanitising high-touch surfaces including doors and handles, shopping baskets, payment terminals and counters
  • making condiments such as sauces and salt and pepper shakers available upon request
  • offering digital or disposable rather than reusable menus

How to move to contactless payments to accept payments more safely

Our transition to a cashless society has been significantly propelled by COVID-19, with Australians dramatically reducing their use of cash. A 2020 Mastercard study found that nearly eight in ten consumers use contactless payments, with contactless transactions growing twice as fast as non-contactless transactions between February and March this year. In fact, a recent Square report on Cashless Payments and the Pandemic in Australia found that one in three Australian businesses turned effectively cashless at some point between January and June 2020.

Payment hardware solutions like Square Contactless Reader and Square Terminal allow you to accept contactless payments quickly and easily, wherever you are. Whether in-store using a debit or credit card, smartphone or wearable technology or over the phone using a customer’s card number, expiry date and CVV, Square supports your business to operate flexibly in our increasingly cashless society. Learn more about our diverse payment solutions.

How to set up an online store to accept online payments

Whether you’re a retail or hospitality business that’s been forced to close or you’re looking for an additional sales channel to counter reduced foot traffic, Square makes it easy to start selling online with Square Online. Our site builder helps you to launch a free online store quickly, accept payments using a range of payment methods, and even offer curbside pickup and local delivery.

For more information about how to become a COVID Safe business, check the Australian Government’s COVID-19 resources for businesses for up-to-date information on business restrictions, guidelines and more.