Workplace health and safety: Covid restrictions for employers state by state

HRD explores the guidelines for transitioning back to work

Workplace health and safety: Covid restrictions for employers state by state

Australia’s Covid restrictions vary widely from state to state despite low numbers of infection across the country.

In recent weeks, Premiers have shown they are willing to impose snap lockdowns and heavy restrictions over singular cases in their bid to prevent a fresh outbreak.

It’s created frustration between some state leaders over the constant stop-start approach to reopening borders and the impact this uncertainty is having on Australia’s economy.

Recently, cases involving infected quarantine workers have posed a headache for officials in both WA and Victoria.

Melbourne is now dealing with its second infection linked to hotel quarantine, after a worker at one of the hotels housing the Melbourne Open tennis players tested positive.

Authorities identified 14 possible exposure sites from the Grand Hyatt case and deemed 661 people close workplace contacts.

NSW has also reported a new case in a returned traveller who tested positive after leaving their 14-day quarantine.

Around a dozen venues have been put on alert around Wollongong and south-eastern Sydney as the Premier Gladys Berejiklian called for greater testing in those areas.

Below are the current workplace restrictions across Australia’s eight states and territories.

What are the Covid restrictions in NSW?

The work from home order was repealed in December, meaning employers are no longer legally obliged to allow their workers to stay home.

Workplaces are encouraged to have COVID-19 Safety Plans in place and to stagger work times to stop large numbers of people entering the workplace and reduce the strain on public transport.

  • Masks are mandatory on public transport, in indoor beauty salons and for front-facing hospitality workers
  • Within Greater Sydney, Central Coast and Wollongong, up to 30 visitors from any number of households may visit another household on any day. The total number of visitors includes adults and children
  • No more than 50 people can gather outside in a public place which includes public parks, reserves, beaches, public gardens and spaces
  • Up to 25 people are allowed at hospitality venues before the one person per 4 square metres rule applies

What are the Covid restrictions in Western Australia?

WA entered a state of emergency after a hotel quarantine worker became infected.

The five-day lockdown for Perth, Peel and the South West has ended but restrictions remain for Perth and Peel until 12.01am Sunday, 14 February 2021.

  • People can go back to work but they must wear a mask indoors
  • Mask wearing is also mandatory at all times when outside of your place of residence
  • Indoor and outdoor private gatherings limited to 20 people
  • The 4 square metre rule applies at venues, up to a maximum of 150 patrons
  • Indoor and outdoor private gatherings limited to 20 people

What are the Covid restrictions in Victoria?

Premier Daniel Andrews had announced an easing of workplace capacity rules until the case involving a hotel quarantine worker linked to the Melbourne Open.

The state now has two cases linked to hotel quarantine and authorities are racing to test close contacts.

Restrictions have been reimposed, meaning the return to work guidelines have changed yet again.

  • Face masks are mandatory in indoor spaces, including workplaces
  • Face masks must be worn in indoor spaces apart from when eating or drinking.  If you are planning to leave your home – take a face mask
  • Also mandatory on public transport and rideshares
  • The 75 per cent ‘return to work’ cap in both public and private sectors scheduled for Monday 8 February are paused and the current cap of 50 per cent will remain in place
  • The limit of people gathering in the home will be reduced to 15 from 30

Read more: COVID-19: What information can employers request?

What are the Covid restrictions in Queensland?

Last month’s restrictions have eased following Greater Brisbane’s 3-day lockdown.

Due to a case in WA, the LGAs in the Metropolitan Perth and Peel regions of Western Australia will remain hotspots until 1am AEST 14 February.

People who have been in a COVID-19 hotspot in the last 14 days or since the start date identified for the hotspot (whichever is shorter) will not be allowed to enter Queensland, except for a limited range of people who can enter for essential purposes and will be required to quarantine on arrival.

The border with Victoria remains open but the state government is asking Queenslanders to reconsider travel to Victoria.

  • 100 people gather in public outdoor spaces
  • 50 people can gather at a private property – this number includes those who live with you
  • All restricted businesses may now have one person per 2 square metres on their premises, other than a hospitality business that does not comply with the requirement to collect contact details electronically

What are the Covid restrictions in South Australia?

South Australia has minimal restrictions after it successfully avoided the lockdowns experienced in neighbouring states.

  • Face masks are not mandatory
  • The total number of people at a place must not exceed 1 person per 2 square metres
  • All businesses that conduct a Defined public activity must have a COVID-Safe Plan
  • COVID Marshals are required across a number of industry sectors to ensure venue capacity, physical distancing and infection control requirements are met

Read more: Remote work: Is HR doing enough to support well-being?

What are the Covid restrictions in Tasmania?

  • The maximum density limit for indoor venues is one person per 2 square metres
  • Business restrictions allow standing activities – like darts, pool, eight-ball, snooker and karaoke – in licensed venues
  • Hospitality premises, including restaurants, cafes and other retail food businesses where food is sold for consumption on-site, as well as businesses that serve alcohol for consumption on-site, must continue to collect contact details for people who enter and remain on the premises for at least 15 minute
  • A number of locations in New South Wales, Victoria, New Zealand and WA have been deemed high risk and entry from those area is not permitted

What are the Covid restrictions in the Northern Territory?

  • Mask wearing is not mandatory, unless on an aircraft or at the airport
  • All businesses are required to lodge a COVID-19 Safety Plan by filling out the relevant checklists available
  • Businesses and organisations to comply with, and review their COVID-19 Safety Plan every six months, appoint a COVID Safety Supervisor to implement their plan and collect customer contact details via the Territory check-in app or other suitable collection tool
  • Some areas within Victoria have been deemed travel hotspots

What are the Covid restrictions in the ACT?

As Australia’s smallest territory, the ACT has few restrictions in place.

The state is currently in stage four of its recovery plan which began in December.

  • Return to work where it suits employers and employees, with a COVID Safety Plan in place
  • All gatherings can have up to 500 people
  • If businesses and venues want to have more than 25 people, they can use one person per two square metres of usable space in indoor and outdoor spaces, provided they use the Check In CBR

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