COVID – 19 Advice for Food Businesses

Advice for food service businesses on coronavirus (COVID-19)

The NT Government continues to prepare advice about coronavirus, for the most up-to-date information visit the SecureNT or the Australian Government Department of Health

The Commonwealth Government has announced that restrictions on non-essential gatherings will be implemented from midday local time 23 March 2020.

Restaurants and cafes are included and will be restricted to takeaway and/or home delivery from midday local time 23 March 2020.

The restrictions support social distancing measures already put in place and protect the Australian community from the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). This is to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus (COVID-19) and to give both businesses and people time to fully understand social distancing requirements.

These measures also apply to outdoor spaces associated with restricted venues.

How is COVID-19 spread?

Currently there is no evidence of foodborne transmission being a significant pathway. Food Standards Australia New Zealand provides further advice in relation to this.

https://www.foodstandards.gov.au/consumer/safety/Pages/NOVEL-CORONAVIRUS-AND-FOOD-SAFETY.aspx

The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus. The virus is most likely spread from person-to-person through:

  • Direct close contact with an infectious person (including in the 24 hours before they started showing symptoms)
  • Contact with droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze, or touching objects or surfaces (like doorknobs or tables) that have cough or sneeze droplets from an infected person, and then touching your mouth or face.

You should review all aspects of the food business that may increase risk of transmission. This will allow you to apply practical measures to reduce risk of spread between staff or to the general public.

Protect yourself and others

Businesses must adhere to food safety requirements in accordance with the Australian and New Zealand Food Standards, specifically:

  • Maintain and practice frequent hand washing when preparing foods, after going to the bathroom, after handling money and after touching your face or hair;
  • Maintain thorough cleaning and sanitising of facilities, equipment, and transport vehicles (including food contact surfaces and equipment, but also door handles, light switches, eftpos machine, counters, and other areas)
  • Maintain strict requirements around worker health and hygiene. Any worker with a suspected communicable disease (such as coughing, sneezing, flu-like symptoms) must be excluded from the workplace.

Providing takeaway or delivery service

To help minimise the impact of the COVID-19 situation on your business you may wish to provide a take away or food delivery service.

If your business is registered with Environmental Health there are no further registration or administrative requirements if you want to provide this service out of your registered kitchen.

You will however need to ensure your business complies with the requirements of the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code, including:

  • Ensuring appropriate packaging is used for takeaway
  • Exercising  good hygiene practices when packaging food
  • Using an appropriate food transport vehicle
  • Temperature control during delivery

Social Distancing

It is important that your business applies social distancing and good hygiene practices.

Measures must be in place to allow customers to maintain a distance of 1.5 metres between people when picking up takeaway.

If your business is providing a home delivery service then staff must apply social distancing rules. Ways to assist with social distancing may include taking payment over the phone or placing food at the customer’s door.

Contact the Environmental Health Branch if you require further information:
Darwin – 08 8922 7377 or email: envirohealthte@nt.gov.au

Other Helpful Documents & Resources

Covid-19 – Advice for Food Service Business

Fact Sheet COVID-19 – Social distancing guidance – Australian Government

Poster – COVID-19 Keeping your distance