FAQ's for food businesses (COVID-19)

people preparing bread for sale

Answers to frequently asked questions for food business during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation. 

What do the easing of restrictions mean for food businesses?

From June 1 2020, food businesses can now operate their dining-in service with up to a maximum of 20 patrons, if the four meter square per person rules supports this. You must record the first name, contact phone number and time of arrival of all customers that are dining in. Take-aways and deliveries are still permitted as usual.  

How many people are allowed in my food business?

The current Stage 2 lifting of restrictions permit up to 20 diners per enclosed space. Staff members do not count towards this number. The current one person per four meters squared rule still applies to the available floor space, meaning the maximum number of customers allowed per enclosed space may be less than 20.

If you have more than one enclosed space, an additional 20 patrons may be permitted to dine in if the floor space permits.

Each of these enclosed spaces must have a sign indicating the maximum number of customers per room.

Can I open my outdoor dining section?

Yes, if it is a separate space substantially divided by a wall or roof. Up to 20 additional customers may be seated in outdoor dining. Outdoor dining must still adhere to the Tobacco Act 1987.

 

Do I need to display signage within my business?

Yes, you must display the maximum number of customers allowed in each enclosed space within the business. Yarra Ranges Council Be Kind to Business program offers a free resource pack including signage for your business. 

I don’t currently do take-away or home delivery. Can I start?

If you are currently registered as a café/restaurant or take-away business (see your Certificate of Registration to confirm) you can start home delivery or take-away services under your current registration if you meet the following criteria below:

  • Do not change or alter your current Environmental Health Officer (EHO) approved menu item(s)
  • If you prepare, cook and cool food items for sale at a later time you will require an amendment to your food safety program or the foodsmart program and an inspection from an EHO, as this may be classified as food manufacturing
  • Do not change your activities within your food business classification (e.g. Class 2, Class 3)
  • Your food safety program is up to date (e.g.  temperature records, food suppliers list thermometer calibrations etc.)
  • Use single use food grade containers and cutlery for delivery food items only
  • Continue to use your EHO approved kitchen, do not use an alternative or additional non approved kitchen (e.g. community center, home etc.) 
  • If you don't have a Planning Permit to allow takeaway food, please contact councils planning department.  
  • Temporary and Mobile premises - please ensure take away food/beverages only applies at all times, no seating/dining facilities to be provided.      

For further guidance on food delivery please see the DHHS webpage on food business home delivery guide . We recommend due diligence when providing take away foods, good business practice is to ensure reheating advice and best before/used by dates are provided to customers to minimise the risks of foodborne illness.  

Do I have to use disposable cutlery, or can I use crockery?

Either option is acceptable. Disposable cutlery cannot be reused and given to other customers as it is unable to be sanitised effectively. Reusable cutlery such as plates, glass cups and so forth will need to be washed and sanitised as per your Food Safety Program.

Ensure staff who collect the cutlery or clear tables thoroughly wash their hands after doing so.

My supplier has run out of my normal food-grade sanitiser, what can I use?

You can make a sanitiser solution using 4% household bleach (unscented). Add 2.5ml (half a teaspoon) of bleach to 1 litre of cold water.

Use in a spray bottle, or to soak dishes in after hand-washing them (for those that don’t clean and sanitise equipment in a dishwasher). This makes a 100ppm (parts per million) dilution.

When using a bleach and water sanitiser, you need to make up a fresh solution each day. 

Check the DHHS chlorine sanitiser calculator for all available chlorine percentages. Further guidelines on cleaning and disinfecting are also available from DHHS.

Where can I seek further information and advice?

The Victorian Government has released Hospitality Industry Guidelines for coronavirus (COVID-19) for restaurants and cafes.

You can also contact Yarra Ranges Council on 1300 368 333 or 9294 6905 to speak to an Environmental Health Officer.

For further information about Coronavirus and symptoms contact the COVID-19 DHHS hotline on 1800 675 398.

Resources

The Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) Food Safety Unit has updated food safety advice to food businesses in light of Coronavirus (COVID-19) and federal restrictions. They will continue to update the information, so keep yourself informed of changes by visiting Advice for food businesses on Coronavirus. This page has useful information and answers some of the questions we have also been asked by businesses. Translated information is also available.

Council understands the feelings of anxiety, distress and concern many people may be experiencing in relation to the coronavirus (COVID-19), Beyond Blue can offer wellbeing advice. If you feel like you need to speak to someone, please contact them on 1300 224 636 or visit their website https://www.beyondblue.org.au/

Please also continue to follow your legislative requirements via the following websites: