The Australian Government Department of Health recommends that the general public wear face masks in instances where:

  • there is risk of community transmission; and
  • it is difficult to maintain social distancing.

A business may set out a condition of entry that requires customers to wear a face mask to enter.

Some businesses are using temperature checks as a preventative measure in managing the COVID-19 outbreak. A high temperature is a symptom of COVID-19. Therefore, a business may choose to turn away people whose temperature is higher than normal. A high temperature is not a diagnosis for COVID-19 and can only identify symptoms of the infection. There could be another reason why a person’s temperature is high. Conversely, an infected person may not exhibit a high temperature, so you should still ensure that other preventative measures, such as frequent hand washing, are taking place. This article will outline the legality of enforcing your customers and employees to wear face masks and carry out temperature checks.

Can I Ask Customers to Wear a Mask and Take Their Temperature?

To keep your staff and customers safe during the COVID-19 outbreak, you may wish to make it compulsory for anyone entering your premises to wear a mask and comply with a temperature check. Stores that have refused service to people not wearing masks have gained a lot of attention. Many business owners and members of the public have questioned whether imposing these rules is lawful.

Refusing service to patrons is relatively common in Australia and can occur for several reasons.

A common example is a restaurant or bar that has a particular dress code. The business has chosen to have the dress code as a condition of entry. A condition of entry is a set of terms and conditions that a patron will accept by entering your premises. If your business has conditions of entry, and it is not practical for each patron to sign a contract, you should display your conditions near the entrance. Consequently, if a patron is not adhering to the conditions of entry, you can reasonably refuse them entry. 

Similarly, you can also make wearing a mask and having a temperature check a condition of entry. Anyone who decides not to comply with your conditions can be refused service and denied access. You should train your employees on how to handle situations where customers refuse to comply with these rules. 

Each of the states and territories has different guidelines around wearing face masks in public. If you are unsure which rules may apply, you should visit your state or territory government website.

Can I Ask Employees to Wear a Mask and Take Their Temperature?

Masks and temperature checks are not compulsory (at time of writing) in all states and territories in Australia. It is best to check with your local government website as to what rules apply nationally and statewide.

It is currently compulsory for anybody out in public in Victoria to wear a face mask. Therefore, if you are conducting business in Victoria, you should ensure all of your employees are complying with the law.

You can ask your workers to wear a mask or take their temperature on shift if you believe it will be beneficial. Before directing your workers to wear a mask, you should consult with them and discuss the reasoning behind your decision. If you and your employees agree that a face mask will be beneficial for their safety and the safety of others, you may want to update their employment contract to reflect this. 

If you would like your employees to wear a mask, you should ensure that you provide them. You should also give training on how to use them properly. 

Key Takeaways

Although wearing masks and taking temperatures is not a legal requirement in most states and territories, doing so can help prevent transmission of COVID-19. As a business owner, you are well within your rights to set conditions of entry into your premises. It is best practice to consult with your employees before directing them to wear a mask and participate in temperature checks. If you are unsure of your responsibilities as a business owner during the COVID-19 outbreak, contact LegalVision’s business lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

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