COVID-19 Updates

Latest Update  – 25 June 2020

COVID-19 information is constantly changing and we will do our best to update this page.
We urge MRWA members to refer to the important links below for the latest information when making commercial decisions.

Phase 4 Easing of Restrictions

Phase 4 of the WA plan to relax COVID-restrictions further starts Saturday, June 27 (effective from 11.59pm Friday, June 26)

Of particular relevance to cellar door operation and winery restaurants, are the following points:

  • Removal of seated service requirements at food businesses and licensed premises;
  • No requirement to maintain patron register at food businesses and licensed premises;
  • Alcohol can be served as part of unseated service arrangements;
  • All events permitted except for large scale, multi-stage music festivals;

Other points to note:

  • Gathering limits will now only be determined by WA’s reduced 2sqm rule
  • The 2sqm rule will only include staff at venues that hold more than 500 patrons
  • Roadmap updated to include Phases 5 and 6
  • Phases 4 and 5 are three weeks apart, and contingent on latest health advice
  • Roadmap and more information available at www.wa.gov.au

WA businesses will be expected to ensure their COVID Safety Plans are updated and continue to be implemented.

Depending on infection rates locally, Phase 5 is planned to be introduced on Saturday, July 18 (effective from 11.59pm Friday, July 17) and will result in the removal of the 2sqm rule.

Instant asset write-off extended

This week, the Federal Government announced it would extend the COVID-19 response $150,000 instant asset write-off for six months to 31 December 2020. Businesses with an annual turnover of less than $500 million will benefit from the extension, with farmers given some welcomed breathing space to benefit from the much-needed tax break. View the media release here.

New Financial Counselling Services – Free and confidential

The Australian Government has committed more than $4.7 million to provide small regional businesses affected by COVID-19 with access to free and confidential financial counselling through the Rural Financial Counselling Service (RFCS) Program. This initiative has been designed to help eligible small businesses understand their financial position, identify options and implement plans to improve their long-term financial viability. It will also help small businesses access the immediate assistance they need to keep afloat and navigate the road to recovery. Regional small businesses can register their interest by calling 1300 771 741. Further information is available here.

Cellar Door Tastings under COVID Stage 3 Easing of Restrictions

From June 6 cellar doors are permitted to provide wine tastings, however all patrons must be seated when consuming alcohol. Patrons are not required to order a meal. Patrons should practice physical distancing by keeping 1.5 metres from patrons from other households. The 100/300 rule applies, along with the 2 square metre per person rule.

  1. Seated and appropriately distanced is the key point. This does not need to be seated at a table. This could be seated at a stool at a tasting bar, seated at a counter, seated on a bench, seated on a picnic blanket etc.
  2. Patrons can order/pay at the bar but must take all beverages back to their seat to consume

Wines of Western Australia have developed a FAQ document available hereIf you have further queries regarding Phase Three, please contact CEO Larry Jorgensen on 0448 884 161 or [email protected]

A comprehensive overview of Phase Three restrictions for food businesses and licensed premises is available here and an infographic here.

For wine producers, tastings at cellar door without food can recommence with a requirement that patrons are seated.

For wine producers with a food offer, the easing of restrictions may mean the number of customers permissible on premise can increase. This will be dependent on the area of the licensed area.

Businesses planning to reopen under Phase Three should review the COVID Safety Guidelines here and complete a COVID Safety Plan – template available here.

Cellar Door Reopening Protocols

Australian Grape & Wine has developed the following Cellar Door Reopening Protocols, to assist all Australian wine businesses to comply with COVID-19 health and safety requirements.
We encourage our members, cellar door operators and staff to familiarise themselves with the protocols, and become confident operating within these guidelines.
It is also important for cellar door operators to understand the legal requirements of their State, and we strongly encourage you to ensure you comply with the rules within the jurisdiction you operate in.

Mandatory COVID-19 hygiene training for hospitality recovery

  • Mandatory COVID-19 hygiene training and assessment to prepare WA hospitality industry for future return to business
  • Early rollout of training program ensures WA businesses can reopen quickly when restrictions are lifted in the future
  • Venues will only be able to reopen when restrictions are lifted and every employee has successfully passed assessment
  • WA public can be confident venues will have strong COVID-19 protections in place
  • State Government program to be delivered by the Australian Hotels Association (WA)
    AHA Hospitality & Tourism COVID-19 Hygiene Course Tier 1
    AHA Hospitality & Tourism COVID-19 Hygiene Officer Course

See full media statement here regarding the mandatory training courses for hospitality workers.

Wines of WA is also working to get a determination from the state government on what will be required for wine tourism businesses to re-open as restrictions are lifted and what activities will be permitted.

JobKeeper Payments

The Jobkeeper payment scheme runs for the fortnights from 30 March until 27 September 2020. You can enrol any time within this period to claim JobKeeper. However, to claim the JobKeeper payment for a fortnight you must enrol before the end of that JobKeeper fortnight. Read more

Updates from Australian Grape & Wine

NCCC Planning Tool – updated 12 May 2020

The National COVID-19 Coordination Commission has created an online planning tool to help businesses develop plans to keep their workers, customers and the community safe as they reopen or increase their activities in the weeks and months ahead.

The planning tool brings together information from across government on the range of help and assistance available to support businesses. This tool complements the Safe Work Australia online hub, which remains the definitive source of information for businesses to understand their work health and safety obligations.

Businesses should seek advice from their local work health and safety authority, Safe Work Australia, or contact the Fair Work Ombudsman to ensure they meet all their legal obligations.

The online planning should take about 30 minutes to complete and leave businesses with a clear idea about what they will do to keep people safe, how they will get their business back up and running and how they might adapt their operating model.

It will also help businesses to plan practical steps such as organising supplies, updating insurance and reactivating subscriptions, and provides links to the assistance available to help them reopen, including help with cash flow, wages and loans.

Essential Industry
We have spent a lot of time this week trying to lock the grape and wine sector in as an Essential Industry that needs to keep running during the COVID-19 crisis. We have had good support at the Federal level, with the Minister for Agriculture, Drought and Emergency Management, David Littleproud, supporting this position. However, this may change according to health advice for States and Territories.  Each State and Territory is also developing their own list of essential industries and it is by no means certain that the grape and wine sector will be included in each of their lists. We have been working directly with the State governments on this, as have our State wine industry counterparts.

Social media posts and digital advertising are under intense scrutiny at this time and we are encouraging all parts of the sector to be sensitive in their posts.

The DrinkWise material is a good source of moderation messaging that needs to be promoted:

  • Drinking in moderation during COVID-19: acknowledging that the implications of COVID-19 can create stress and anxiety, encouraging people not to use alcohol as a short-term fix and reminding Australians to support one another.
  • Parental influence: reminding parents about the importance of being a good role model for their children, especially during social isolation.
  • Guidelines: addressing the importance of moderation during uncertain times, reminding Australians about the (proposed) alcohol guidelines and urging them to seek help if needed.

Minister Littleproud extends Agriculture Visas

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Agriculture announced the extension of visas for critical agricultural workers, in response to calls from industry. Key details of this announcement are:

  • Seasonal Worker Program and Pacific Labour Scheme workers can extend their stay for up to 12 months to work for approved employers (ensuring pastoral care and accommodation needs of workers are met to minimise health risks to visa holders and the community).
  • Approved employers under the Seasonal Worker Program and Pacific Labour Scheme will need to continue engaging with the Department of Education, Skills and Employment on labour market testing to ensure recruitment of Australians first.
  • Working Holiday Makers (WHMs) who work in agriculture or food processing will be exempt from the six month work limitation with the one employer, and eligible for a further visa to keep working in these critical sectors if their current visa is due to expire in the next six months.
  • Conditions will be placed upon visa holders to self-isolate for 14 days before taking up employment in a different region (including termination of visas where there is non-compliance).
  • To support implementation of self-isolation arrangements for visa holders and avoid spread of COVID-19, the Government is working with States and Territories on enforcement and sanction mechanisms.
  • Employers will need to commit to providing safe accommodation for agricultural workers that complies with social distancing requirements.
  • Arrangements will also need to be in place for a declaration between employers and employees that all protocols necessary to ensure human health and accommodation requirements have been met.

For more information, see Australian Grape & Wine’s dedicated COVID-19 Webpage

Health

Business

Employment

Tourism & Travel