COVID-19 safety rules and guidance for arts, screen and culture in NSW

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Arts and culture COVID-Safe

Stay up-to-date with information on COVID-19 in New South Wales via the NSW Health website.

For information on workplace safety, please visit SafeWork.

There are a range of COVID-19 information resources on the NSW Government COVID-19 portal.

Public Health Orders and Restrictions

To deal with the public health risk of COVID-19 and its possible consequences, the Minister for Health and Medical Research has made a number of Orders, under section 7 of the Public Health Act 2010. Public Health Orders are being amended frequently, so be sure to check out which one is currently in force, which you can do so here.

NSW Health is the NSW Government body responsible for issuing and modifying Public Health Orders, and developing guidelines and COVID-19 Safety Plans to assist the reopening of industries in NSW.

All NSW arts, culture and entertainment organisations should follow NSW Health guidelines rather than guidelines produced in other parts of Australia.

COVID-19 Safety Plans

COVID-19 Safety Plans are comprehensive checklists designed by NSW Health and approved by the Chief Health Officer. The plans provide clear directions on how businesses and organisations should fulfil their obligations under Public Health Orders to minimise risk of transmission of COVID-19 on their premises.

Under current NSW Public Health Orders, most NSW arts and cultural organisations/business that are open to the public must complete a COVID-19 Safety Plan.

Create NSW advises all organisations to look at current Public Health Orders alongside relevant industry guidelines from NSW Health when drafting a COVID-19 Safety Plan.

Create NSW cannot process or handle exemptions for the sector.

Areas covered in COVID-19 Safety Plans

The following areas must be addressed in your COVID-19 Safety Plan:

  • Wellbeing of Staff and Visitors/Audiences/Artists/Performers/Students etc
    including a protocol for staff who are unwell, and displaying conditions of entry/participation.
  • Physical Distancing – including management of venue capacity, the management of gatherings and protocols for artform-specific work, face mask requirements.
  • Hygiene and Cleaning – including ensuring bathroom services are regularly cleaned, and hand washing facilities are supplied/maintained.
  • Record Keeping – including an electronic method of keeping information of attendees to your venue/workplace for 28 days.

Each artform your organisation presents or supports will have different conditions placed upon it for reopening, and different variables around the amount of people able to gather at one time. However, it is important to start developing flexible plans that can be modified as Public Health Orders are changed and types of work are authorised to recommence.

Public Health Orders updates

Stay up-to-date with the NSW Government’s Public Health Orders (PHO) and restrictions. Please refer to PHO information when developing your COVID-19 Safety Plan as it may contain clarifications relating to your particular venue, organisation or business.

Guidelines and checklists for preparing your COVID-19 Safety Plan will be prepared and updated by NSW Health shortly before or at the time that Public Health Orders restrictions evolve for different businesses, services and industries over the coming months.

Registering as a COVID Safe organisation or business

Once your COVID-19 Safety Plan is complete, you may register your organisation/business with the NSW Government as COVID Safe. For some businesses/organisations, it is mandatory to register as COVID-19 Safe. Other businesses and organisations are encouraged to register as COVID Safe to show their patrons and visitors that they are keeping up the highest standards to prevent COVID-19 transmission.

Recording patrons and visitors – COVID Safe Check-in

Businesses and organisations are required to have a NSW Government QR code in order for staff and customers can check in using the Service NSW app. Please see the list of premises to see if it is required for your business or organisation.

You can see if your business already has one or get one for your business through the NSW Health website.

QR codes are like barcodes, with information that can be read by a smartphone camera, but some phones may require a specific app which are available for free on Android or iPhone stores. They are a hygienic and contactless way of signing into a venue. If a patron does not have a smartphone, follow the NSW Health instructions on signing in patrons without smartphones.

Find out more about your obligations for recoding and keeping contact details, as well as what to if patrons are unable to provide contact details or patrons refuse to check in, visit click here. To know more about assisting someone with the check-in process and your QR code responsibilities, click here.

COVID-19 resources for the arts and cultural sector

Due to the current COVID-19 situation as of 8 September 2021, we advise you check the NSW Health website for the latest information.

This resource will be updated as soon as reopening advice is provided.

Create Connects COVID-19 webinars can be found here.

Audience Outlook Monitor

The Audience Outlook Monitor dashboard is freely accessible and designed to help artists and cultural organisations of all kinds to make the best possible decisions about re-opening and understand how audiences feel about attending events again.

Do require help with the above information?

For further assistance, or to discuss your COVID-19 Safety Plan, NSW quarantine, international travel and to be added to COVID-19 related emails from Create NSW, please contact:

Bec Dean
rebecca.dean@create.nsw.gov.au +61 2 8289 6447

Ashley Collis
ashley.collis@create.nsw.gov.au +61 2 8289 6420


Page updated 28 September 2021.

Image: Newcastle Museum. Image courtesy the museum.
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Published: 16 June 2020