FAQs: getting back to business

With NSW being the first state to achieve the 70% vaccination milestone, it's your cue to get #backtobusiness.

Last updated: 11 October 2021

Understandably, you may have some questions on how to best manage the first stage of the roadmap to opening up. We’ve put together the following FAQs to help you manage your customers and employees. Please also refer to guidance and resources the NSW government has produced to support you.  

Customers, patrons and visitors

Which settings require proof of customers being fully vaccinated? 

Many businesses and venues including non-critical retail, hospitality, personal services, sporting, recreation and entertainment facilities and events will need proof customers or patrons are fully vaccinated. Refer to the full list below under "Employees" as these rules apply to both customers and employees. Critical retail such as supermarkets or pharmacies, or takeaway food and drinks will still be accessible for people who are not fully vaccinated. See rules for critical retail. Read more on proof of COVID-19 vaccination.

How can my customers verify they are fully vaccinated?

The NSW government will shortly roll out the Service NSW “vaccine passport”. This provides a seamless experience when doing a COVID-19 QR code check-in by displaying the fully vaccinated status. In the meantime, customers, patrons and visitors may show their vaccination status via a COVID-19 digital certificate or a hard copy of the immunisation history statement.

What if customers don’t have a smart phone – how can I help them obtain a paper copy record?

Customers who require a paper version may call the Australian Immunisation Register on 1800 653 809 to request a statement however it may take up to 14 days to receive via post.

What if customers have only had one vaccine dose?

Customers need to have both doses of an approved vaccine to participate in the roadmap of opening up at 70%.

What if customers are unable to be vaccinated due to health reasons?

Customers who have a medical condition preventing them from being vaccinated can speak to their medical practitioner about getting their medical contraindication added to their immunisation history and therefore being medically exempt.

Where can I find more information on getting proof of vaccination?

Visit Service NSW for more detailed information.

What else can I do to help manage customers and COVID-19 safety?

To set the right expectation, consider displaying ample posters and signage stating the requirements:

  • the Service NSW QR code
  • staff will be checking vaccination status prior to entry
  • only valid forms of vaccination evidence or medical exemption will be accepted.

It’s encouraged you roster a COVID-19 marshall to ensure customers are checking-in and are vaccinated. There are also capacity limits to manage – one person per four square metres for indoors and one person per two square metres for outdoor settings.

What if customers are not complying?

You gently remind customers you are managing work health and safety risks and complying with NSW Public Health Orders. Authorised officers will monitor businesses to make sure individuals and businesses are complying. On the spot fines may apply for breaches. You can also inform customers these are short-term measures as some changes to the rules come into effect from 1 December whereby proof of vaccination will no longer be required. 

Can I refuse unvaccinated people from entering my business?

Public Health Orders require certain businesses to take reasonable steps to prevent unvaccinated people from entering the business or premises.  Exemptions apply to anyone who cannot be vaccinated for a medical reason or those under 16 years of age.

If your business is not covered by a NSW Public Health Order, you may refuse entry to unvaccinated people as long as you comply with anti-discrimination and privacy laws.


Does my business require employees to be fully vaccinated?

From 11 October 2021, workers aged 16 years and over (as well as customers) are required to be fully vaccinated to enter the following:

  • entertainment facilities
  • major recreation facilities
  • hospitality venues
  • anywhere a wedding, funeral or memorial service is held or a gathering following the service (other than small services with 10 or less people)
  • hairdressers, nail spas, beauty salons, tattoo parlours or massage parlours
  • indoor recreation facilities
  • public swimming pools
  • information and education facilities
  • retail premises (other than 'critical retail')
  • auction houses
  • betting agencies
  • gaming lounges
  • markets that do not predominantly sell food
  • places of public worship.

What is the vaccination requirement for regions outside of Greater Sydney?

Until 1 November 2021, any of the premises/businesses mentioned above that are outside Greater Sydney can allow employees who also reside outside of Greater Sydney to work with only one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine instead of the two-dose requirement.  Greater Sydney includes Wollongong, Shellharbour and Central Coast. 

Can I ask employees for proof of vaccination?

You can generally ask employees to provide either proof of vaccination or medical contraindication to the COVID-19 vaccination if the information is reasonably necessary for managing work health and safety risks. In some settings, a NSW Public Health Order may authorise employers to request that information and require employees to comply with the request.

What if an employee tests positive to COVID-19?

They will need to self-isolate for 14 days regardless of their vaccination status.

What if I have multiple employees that have tested positive?

NSW Health must be informed if your business has three or more staff members that have tested positive to COVID-19 in a seven-day period. Further advice regarding actions required will be provided to you by NSW Health.

What happens if a customer with COVID-19 visits my business?

NSW Health guidelines Contact Risk Assessment for Community and Workplace Settings enables you to assess the risk and actions to be taken. Note the Service NSW QR Code check-in will notify people who were in the same venue as the positive case.

What other steps can I take to minimise interruption, such as the risk of closure to my business?

  • ensure your staff are fully vaccinated
  • remind all employees to check-in via the Service NSW QR code
  • practice COVID-19 safe behaviours e.g. mask wearing, physical distancing, and capacity limits.
  • if applicable, conduct regular onsite testing programs
  • where possible, allow indoor airflow / ventilation.
The guidance provided is general in nature. The guidance has been prepared without taking into account your specific objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on any guidance you should consider the appropriateness of the guidance having regard to your objectives, financial situation and needs. Before making any decisions, it is important for you to consider these matters and to seek appropriate legal, health or other professional advice.

Spread the word about vaccinations

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