Venues across all states and territories are now allowed dine-in guests, except for in Victoria, where table service will be introduced from Monday 1 June. 

A number of governments require businesses to submit a COVID-safe plan, to show they are ready to operate with new hygiene and safety protocols in place. While there are many similarities, there are also differences between states and territories. 

Even if it’s not a formal requirement in your jurisdiction, it’s imperative you implement a plan for your business. The continued easing of restrictions is dependent on Australia’s ability to keep the spread of COVID-19 under control — any of the relaxations introduced this month could be reversed if there is a spike in transmission rates. 

Australian Capital Territory

The ACT Government has provided a checklist, which businesses must complete and keep on hand. A hard or digital copy must be produced if requested by a relevant compliance or enforcement officer. It covers how to calculate the number of people you can have on their premises, ensure physical distancing is maintained, manage staff and customer illness and implement cleaning, sanitising and hygiene activities. 

New South Wales 

SafeWork NSW has provided guidelines for businesses in the state to consider implementing. Recommendations include completing a risk assessment, cleaning and disinfecting, workforce screening, personal protective equipment and managing customer aggression. 

Northern Territory 

Operators need to understand the government’s guidelines and complete an online checklist before they can reopen. Businesses with multiple locations need to complete the online checklist for each separate venue. To complete the checklist businesses will need to be able to show how they will meet physical distancing and hygiene requirements set out in the government’s guidelines. 


Businesses must complete, sign and prominently display the COVID Safe Checklist at each premises in order to offer dine-in services. The list does not need to be submitted for approval, but enforcement officers may check compliance with the list at any time. Both metropolitan and outback venues must complete the checklist. It covers mandatory requirements including the wellbeing of staff, physical distancing, record keeping, hygiene and cleaning and deliveries, contractors and visitors attending the premises. 

South Australia 

The South Australian government has outlined a range of requirements and recommendations for businesses who choose to offer outdoor dining. Indoor table service is still prohibited and alcohol cannot be consumed on premises. Operators should familiarise themselves with the government’s outdoor dining fact sheet, which covers details such as social distancing, use of shared equipment, hygiene, disinfection and signage. 


Businesses need to demonstrate compliance with the Minimum Standards (Work Health and Safety Amendment Regulations 2020) by developing a COVID-19 Safety Plan. All restaurants and cafes will need to develop a plan before reopening. Once the plan is in place, businesses can register for COVID-safe window stickers and posters. WorkSafe Tasmania’s COVID Safe Workplace Guidelines for the Hospitality Industry is designed to help businesses develop a plan. 


Victoria Police will conduct spot checks of venues to ensure they are complying with guidelines, which are set to be released on Monday 25 May. Restaurants and cafes can reopen from Monday 1 June. 

Western Australia 

Businesses need to complete a COVID Safety Plan and hospitality workers need to undertake COVID-19 hygiene training. There are tailored COVID Safety Guidelines, which outline the mandatory requirements for venues opening beyond takeaway only. A specific COVID Safety Plan for food businesses will need to be completed, after which a COVID Safety Certificate should be displayed. 

Food Safety 

There is no evidence COVID-19 is transmitted through food, according to Food Standards Australia and New Zealand (FSANZ). Businesses should continue to follow the existing Food Standards Code. The FSANZ has developed a checklist for venues who have been closed throughout the COVID-19 period to help them reopen safely. 

Image: Petr Sevcovic 

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