Inspectors swoop on Sydney in $5,000 COVID fine blitz

Bottle shop with NSW QR code and sign 'QR check-in is mandatory', image of woman using smartphone.
SafeWork NSW will target non-compliant businesses this weekend. (Images: Getty).

Sydney businesses failing to follow COVID safe rules will be subjected to $5,000 fines as SafeWork NSW embarks on a compliance blitz.

Inspectors from the workplace health authority will hit the streets from Saturday 14 August with a goal of identifying and imposing penalties on Greater Sydney businesses with poor check-in and social distancing procedures.

It comes as NSW records a grim milestone, with 390 new cases of community-transmitted COVID-19 reported on Thursday.

“While the vast majority of businesses are making every effort to ensure they do the right thing, it’s now more important than ever for all retailers to be COVID smart and COVID safe,” SafeWork NSW, director of work health and safety Dimitri Argeres said.

“Any business found breaking the rules may be subjected to fines and could face a closure.”

SafeWork inspectors will also be penalising non-essential businesses that are open for trade, and will be in force in major shopping centres, food courts, supermarkets and other retail settings.

Non-compliant businesses will face $5,000 fines on the first offence, while businesses that repeatedly fail to comply with COVID safe rules may face closure.

“The need for customers to check in when entering retail stores cannot be overstated, as it allows for effective contact tracing,” Argeres said.

“It is critically important businesses have the correct check-in measures for customers and that patrons are doing the right thing and checking in, otherwise severe penalties apply.”

SafeWork also called on NSW residents to report non-compliance to Crime Stoppers or on the NSW Government website.

The compliance blitz comes after Service NSW announced a major change to its check in procedures.

People who don’t have smartphones will soon be able to use a COVID-19 check-in card to mark their attendance at venues like supermarkets, meaning they will no longer need to check in using a pen and paper.

The check-in card would instead hold that person’s details, which they would then present whenever entering a business.

“The days of seeking out somewhere to manually sign in with pen and paper should be an absolute last resort,” Minister for Digital and Customer Service Victor Dominello said.

NSW residents will need to register for the card and then will have the choice of printing the card at home or having a plastic card sent to them.

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