Stay at Home Restrictions in Greater Sydney and other restrictions upon Members’ businesses
Over the last week there have been a number of Public Health Orders (PHO) issued by the New South Wales Government as a consequence of the COVID 19 outbreak. These PHO’s have covered everything from QR Codes and face masks, to stay at home limitations. To assist members to understand how these various PHO’s affect their business we have summarised the relevant provisions.
A. Stay At Home Restrictions
The PHO on Movement and Gatherings in the Greater Sydney commenced at 6pm on Saturday 26th June 2021 and continues until midnight, Friday 9th July 2021 or until further notice. This PHO limits the ability of persons within the Greater Sydney area to leave their residence except for a range of specified exceptions. The key elements of the PHO are;
- The Greater Sydney area covers the Sydney Metropolitan Area as well as the Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury, Wollondilly, Central Coast, City of Shell Harbour and City of Wollongong Local Government Areas;
- The stay at home or order stipulates “The minister directs that an affected person must not without reasonable excuse be away from the persons place of residence, wherever located”. An “affected person” is any person whose place of residence (including temporary accommodation) or usual place of work is in Greater Sydney, and also includes any person that has been in Greater Sydney at any time starting on 21 June 2021.
- Under Schedule 1 of the PHO there are sixteen (16) categories of what are called “reasonable excuses”. For members, in the running of their business, the key excuses are:
“Obtaining food or other goods or services for the personal needs of the household or other household purposes, including pets, and for vulnerable” and
“For the purpose of work if the person cannot work from the persons place of residence”
- The PHO stipulates a plethora of businesses which must close during this period. In the view of MTA NSW there are no types of businesses across the motor industry which are covered by this provision, meaning that members business can remain open.
- The PHO states “The Minister directs that an employer must allow an employee to work at the employee’s place of residence if it is reasonably practicable to do so”. Whilst back office functions such as finance and marketing may be able to practically work from home, provided the technology is available and the designated work environment is safe from a WHS perspective, staff such as sales, mechanics and technicians are unlikely to be able to work from home and will still be required to attend work.
- The PHO limits the movement of persons both into and out of the Greater Sydney area. The PHO stipulates “The Minister directs that a person outside of Greater Sydney must not, without reasonable excuse, enter Greater Sydney”. The list of reasonable excuses are the same as set out in Schedule 1. Therefore, if a business has staff travelling into the Greater Sydney area to undertake work related activities this is permissible as it is for work which cannot be undertaken at home. Additionally, if a staff member has to travel outside of the Greater Sydney area for work which cannot practically be done at home, in the view of MTA NSW, this is permissible.
- The PHO also stipulates that for a person who is travelling through the Greater Sydney area in a vehicle and the person does not leave the vehicle or alternatively the person does leave the vehicle but has travelled through Greater Sydney “by the most practicable route” then the stay at home order will not apply to that person when they return to an area outside of Greater Sydney. In the view of MTA NSW if a member outside of Greater Sydney has staff who need to travel into Greater Sydney for business and then travel straight back the stay at home order does not apply to that staff member when they return. Obviously, any stay over in the Greater Sydney area would not fit within this exception.
B. Face Masks
The current PHO also stipulates that the wearing of face masks is compulsory whilst the person is;
- In any indoor area of a non-residential premises (an indoor area is defined as a building or other structure, which has a roof, ceiling or other top covering, but does not include an area with at least two (2) sides open to the weather) and;
- At a public transport waiting area or in a vehicle or vessel being used to provide a public transport service; and
- In a major recreation facility; and
- Attending a COVID-19 safe outdoor gathering or a controlled outdoor public gathering; and
- Working at a hospitality venue and dealing directly with members of the public
The current PHO lists a range of reasons for when a “person may remove a fitted face covering” and for the benefit of members the most likely reason that apply to your business are:
- The person is eating or drinking;
- The person is communicating with another person who is deaf or hard of hearing;
- The person is at work and the nature of the person’s work makes the wearing of the fitted face covering a risk to the person’s or another person’s health and safety;
- The removal of the fitted face covering is necessary for the proper provision of the goods or services; or
- the person is working alone in an indoor area like an office until another person enters the area.
Members should also be aware that these requirements and exceptions surrounding the wearing of face masks in indoor settings also apply across the whole of New South Wales.
C. Capacity of persons in Non-residential premises in New South Wales
The current PHO stipulates limits on the number of persons who are allowed on non-residential premises New South Wales. These limitations are are the greater of:
- 1 person per four (4) square meters of space of the premises; or
- Twenty five (25) persons
D. QR Codes
Whilst to date the implementation and usage of QR Codes has not been mandatory for our members businesses, in an announcement made today by the Minister for Digital and Customer Services, Mr Victor Dominello, he has stated that as of the 12th July 2021 it will be mandatory for all businesses to have a Services New South Wales QR Code and that the business will be required to take all reasonable steps necessary to ensure that persons who enter the premises check in. We suggest that members commence preparing for this requirement and register online through Services NSW. For assistance with setting up a QR code, please visit the Service NSW website here.
For the benefit of members we have provided a link to the current PHO. It can be accessed at:
Public Health (COVID-19 Temporary Movement and Gathering Restrictions) Order 2021