20-22 – Supporting local businesses to comply with COVID-19 restrictions

Category: Circular to Councils Status: Active
Circular Details: 20-22 / June 2020 / A707074 Contact:  Council Engagement Team / 02 4428 4100 /
Previous Circular: Nil Attachments:  Overview of the role and responsibilities of councils and other NSW Government agencies.
Who should read this: General Managers / Council public health and enforcement staff Action required:  Action by relevant staff
PDF Version: Council Circular 20-22 – PDF

What’s new or changing

  • The NSW Government recognises that councils are playing a critical role in protecting the community from the transmission of COVID-19. Central to this has been their ongoing engagement and education of the community in relation to COVID-19 restrictions in public spaces and council-owned facilities.
  • As restrictions ease and the focus moves towards recovery, the NSW Government is requesting that councils build on their community safety role by engaging with local businesses that need assistance in complying with COVID-19 Public Health Orders.
  • The NSW Government has developed the COVID Safe Check app, which provides a way for customers to give feedback in real time to businesses and to regulators for action where necessary.
  • In some cases, feedback about businesses who may not be fully complying with the Public Health Order may be provided to councils through the Office of Local Government (OLG).
  • Councils are asked to engage with identified businesses through targeted site visits, the primary purpose of which will be to guide and assist business operators towards compliance with the Public Health Orders.
  • All enforcement action will remain a matter for the NSW Police Force.

What this will mean for your council

  • OLG will refer relevant COVID Safety Check app feedback to the appropriate council based on the location of the business. OLG will establish a point of contact in each council to ensure consistency in the referral process.
  • Councils are asked to review the feedback and respond within available resourcing. However, site visits to businesses to provide information about restrictions and encourage compliance are likely to be the most effective approach.
  • To assist councils, an information pack including a standardised site visit checklist and an online training presentation will be available on the OLG webpage in the coming days. This will include links to relevant information which councils can provide to businesses as part of the education and engagement process.
  • Where a site visit is undertaken, council officers should consider:

(a) Alerting the business that the council has received information the business may not be in compliance with the Public Health Order.
(b) Explaining the importance of the Public Health Order restrictions and seek their cooperation by providing education material in the standard information pack.
(c) Advising that if council or the NSW Government receives information about further breaches from the business, the matter may be escalated to the NSW Police Force for enforcement.

  • Councils are asked to report back to OLG on any action taken. OLG will provide a streamlined reporting tool for this purpose.
  • Councils are also encouraged where possible to take proactive action by providing relevant information to local businesses even if a complaint has not been received.

Key points

  • Businesses have an obligation to comply with the Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order (No 3) 2020 in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Under the Public Health Orders, businesses have been allowed to open to the public for limited purposes and subject to the conditions set out in the Public Health Orders. These conditions can include the development of and compliance with a COVID-19 Safety Plan that address the matters in the published checklist relevant to that industry or venue type.
  • Councils can build on their well-established public health community engagement processes to encourage local businesses to comply with the Public Health Orders.
  • An overview of the roles and responsibilities of councils and other NSW Government agencies in relation to the Public Health Orders is contained in Attachment 1.

Where to go for further information

  • OLG’s Council Engagement Managers will contact councils in the coming days to develop a database of relevant officers and answer any questions councils may have about the process.
  • Further information (including resources such as a standardised checklist and reporting tools) will be available on the OLG’s COVID-19 webpage.

Tim Hurst
Deputy Secretary
Local Government, Planning and Policy