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NSW businesses on notice about information gathering requirements under COVID-19 easing

NSW businesses on notice about information gathering requirements under COVID-19 easing

Published on June 16, 2020 by Dexter CabalDexter Cabal

NSW businesses on notice about information gathering requirements under COVID-19 easing

Cafés, Restaurants, Pubs, Registered Clubs, Churches, Weddings and Funerals must collect and maintain patron records or potentially face significant fines and even imprisonment.

A leading Firm says many businesses reopening after the easing of COVID-19 restrictions could face a significant financial penalty and even imprisonment if they don’t properly collect and maintain customer records as required by the Public Health (COVID-19 Restrictions on Gathering and Movement) Order (No 3) 2020 (NSW).

“Whilst most attention has focused on the number of patrons that reopening businesses can now accommodate, less attention has been made of the accompanying requirements obligating occupiers and operators of premises to record details of the patrons that enter through their doors and the obligation to maintain those records for at least 4 weeks”, said Dexter Cabal of Carroll & O’Dea Lawyers.

“The obligations affect thousands of businesses across the State as well as individuals entering relevant premises.

“In NSW, every person entering:

  • a café, restaurant, pub, or registered club premises to consume food or drink on the premises or, access goods and services on the premises,
  • or who attend wedding and funeral services,
  • as well as those who attend church;

must provide their name and contact details (including email address or phone number) to the operator or occupier of the premises so as to allow for the manual tracking of the potential spread of the COVID-19 virus.

“Failure to comply with the requirements to provide personal details by an individual can result in serious fines for breaching a direction contained in the Order.

“Equally the operator or occupier of the premises must record and maintain those information records for a period of at least 4 weeks from the date of visit by the patron and on request must provide those records to the NSW Chief Health Officer.

“Failure to comply with requirements stated in the Order to collect and maintain patron records can result in serious fines.

“Section 10 of the Public Health Act 2010 (NSW) creates an offence if an individual fails to comply with a direction contained in the Order with a maximum penalty of imprisonment of 6 months or a fine of up to $11,000 (or both) plus a further $5,500 fine each day the offence continues.

“Corporations that fail to comply are liable to a fine of $55,000 and $27,500 each day the offence continues.

“These are very serious obligations which apply to every type of business covered by the COVID-19 legislation in NSW including cafés, bars, restaurants, registered clubs, pubs, wedding venues, churches and even funeral parlours.

“Coupled with the record keeping obligations is an inherent onus on businesses to ensure that the information collected is safeguarded from the risk of misuse and unauthorised disclosure.

“We urge businesses to understand the rules and ensure that they are complying not only with the regulations on social distancing within their business but also the record keeping and reporting obligations (to the proper authority when requested)”, said Mr Cabal.

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