159-2021: COVID-19: Consolidation of information on department activity in affected states

21 July 2021

Who does this notice affect?

All Biosecurity Industry Participants and food importers who have premises that departmental officers may attend (for inspections, audits, surveillance or other purposes) as well as clients, couriers and other third party agents that may attend departmental offices.

What has changed?

With multiple states now experiencing continuing community transmissions of COVID-19, this Import Industry Advice Notice seeks to combine information on the impact on the department's activity to help operators who work across jurisdictions keep up with changing requirements.

The Department of Agriculture, Water and the Environment (DAWE) works in a range of environments, including those managed and owned by our clients and business partners.

We remain committed to delivering our core business and continuing to safeguard Australian agriculture and our environment from the threat of pests and diseases as well as continuing to verify the safety and compliance of imported food during this pandemic.

Where there are shared duties under the Work Health and Safety Act 2011, we are required to work together to take all reasonably practicable steps to ensure the health and safety of all our workers.

Requirement to notify the department of COVID-19 cases

Biosecurity Industry Participants have an obligation to notify the department if any of their staff (or visitors to their premises) test positive for COVID-19.

We are taking action across all states and requesting your assistance to help protect both our people and yours, especially where there is a risk that one or more employees have been confirmed or is potentially infected with COVID-19.

In particular:

  • We may seek assurance from you that COVID-19 risks have been mitigated so far as is reasonably practicable prior to and when we arrive at your workplace/s; and
  • We require you to:
    • notify us immediately by email if any of your employees (or any visitor to your premises) returns a positive diagnosis of COVID-19 – please email us at agriccc@agriculture.gov.au making sure to include “COVID NOTIFICATION - [STATE/TERRITORY]” in the subject field of the email;
    • ensure that any of your employees who are feeling unwell or are presenting COVID-19 symptoms do not enter our workplaces for any reason; and
    • ensure that this messaging is reiterated and adhered to by all employees and any downstream contractors you may engage to deliver your services.

We will in turn notify you and comply with the requirements outlined above if this applies to any of our employees that access your workplace or may have come into contact with your employees in our workplace.

Onsite access to premises to conduct departmental activities

As essential workers, departmental officers for imports and export inspection and audits will continue to undertake these activities in accordance with departmental and government requirements. This includes practising COVID-safe behaviours such as physical distancing, using relevant personal protection equipment (PPE), and requiring our industry participants to do the same. Officers have also been asked to comply with reasonable requests implemented by industry participants where these requests are not consistent with the relevant health advice.

It is expected that these officers will be provided onsite access to operator premises to conduct inspection and audit activities where required.

Should you deny entry to a departmental officer at your premise for an inspection, you will be required to make another inspection booking and appropriate cancellation charges will be applied as per the Charging guidelines 2021

Visitors attending department premises

We are confident that we have implemented all necessary risk mitigation strategies in our workplaces to protect our people from COVID-19. This includes strict protocols to ensure that the department is promptly informed and responds to suspected and confirmed cases of COVID‑19. 

We will continue to consider and refine our activities in response to public health measures and impacts, in line with state government and state health advice. Where practical, we have implemented alternative processes for some activities to ensure this can be achieved with minimal on-site interaction between our people.

Where COVID restrictions are in place, and where required by the relevant state/territory, visitors who have an operational need to enter department premises are to electronically register on entry, regardless of duration on site.

Where required by the relevant state/territory government requirements, visitors are also required to wear a face mask while on site at all times.

To assist in this effort and to avoid disruption to your business, please ensure your staff including couriers and other third-party agents are equipped with devices capable of scanning and registering their required details. 

Any individual attending our premises for operational purposes who is unable to meet these requirements may be turned away.

Businesses and/or individuals may be liable for fines for non-compliance as per relevant state/territory requirements. We look forward to continuing to work with you and your people to support and enable our businesses in a COVID Safe manner.

Current state/territory specific COVID-19 requirements

In addition to the above, please ensure you are aware of local requirements for your relevant state or territory:

Further information

For further general information about this Import Industry Advice Notice, please contact the department on 1800 900 090.

If you have been impacted by state government advice and are unable to maintain your scheduled import inspection appointment with the department, please contact us on 1800 900 090 or email the relevant import booking queue to advise of cancellation of the appointment.

For urgent information relating to this notice, please email agriccc@agriculture.gov.au making sure to include “COVID NOTIFICATION - [STATE/TERRITORY]” in the subject field of the email.

For further information about this notice or the impact of COVID-19 on imports and biosecurity services more broadly, please contact us on 1800 900 090 or visit our website at www.agriculture.gov.au/coronavirus/import.

Last reviewed: 21 July 2021
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