Business guide to Coronavirus

New rules on QR codes and face masks in nsw

New rules on face masks and QR codes are now in play, with hefty fines for non-compliance.

QR codes

Tough new QR code rules have also come into force. As of 1 January 2021, hospitality venues and hairdressers must use the Service NSW QR code system. If you don’t, penalties include $5,000 on-the-spot fines, followed by a week’s closure and a month’s closure if problems continue.

“Non-compliance is easy to detect and won’t be tolerated,” said the Minister for Customer Service, Victor Dominello.

“Pursuant to the Public Health Orders you either have the Service NSW QR code or you don’t. There will be no ifs or buts.”

Businesses are also required to sight a customer’s green tick prior to entry to comply with the orders.

Personal information obtained by businesses will be held securely by the government and only used by NSW Health in the event of an outbreak. It will be destroyed after 28 days.

The government will consider expanding the mandate to other industries later in the new year.


Service NSW creates a unique, free QR code for your business that customers can scan when they visit.

Customers will need to have the Service NSW app installed on their mobile to record their visit.

COVID Safe Check-in is available to all businesses in NSW and is provided as part of the COVID Safe registration pack.


Businesses who have already registered as COVID Safe will be emailed their unique QR code.

Registered businesses and organisations can also access or recover QR codes from the business resources page. They will need the email they registered with to access the business resources page.

You can register your business here

What about customers?

When a customer arrives at your business, they scan the QR code with their smartphone.

Customers who have the Service NSW app installed will be taken to the check-in.

If they haven’t installed the app, they will get two options:

  • download the Service NSW app, create an account and check in
  • check in using an online form.

The QR code prevents the use of fake names as a customer’s personal details are automatically captured via the Service NSW app when they scan their smartphone over the code.

Customers without a smartphone will be able to register at businesses via other digital devices, such as an electronic form on a tablet.

Club industry

If you work in the club industry, there are specific requirements under the Registered Clubs Act 1976 during COVID-19. Read the Liquor & Gaming NSW Statement of Regulatory Intent here

Face masks

Commuters, shoppers, workers and worshipers must now wear mask indoors or risk receiving a $200 fine.

If you live in the Greater Sydney region (including Wollongong, Central Coast and Blue Mountains) it’s now mandatory to wear masks in the following settings:

  • shopping (retail, supermarkets and shopping centres)
  • public/shared transport
  • indoor entertainment (including cinemas and theatres)
  • places of worship
  • hair and beauty premises
  • post offices
  • betting agencies
  • gaming lounges, and
  • tattoo parlours.

The rules don’t apply outside Greater Sydney, but everyone in New South Wales is encouraged to wear a mask and be COVID-safe.


What can your business do to encourage customers to wear a mask? The NSW Government recommends you display signage in your business to encourage customers to wear masks. Click here to download signage developed by the state government.

What to do if a customer enters your business without a mask? Businesses are only responsible for their employees wearing masks, not to enforce the regulations on customers. The NSW Government suggests politely asking a customer to wear a mask. If they are unwilling, you can request they leave your premises. 

Are businesses required to supply masks for employees? Yes, the NSW Government says employers must provide employees with personal protective equipment (PPE) and not charge their employees for using it. 

Marise Donnolley

Editor, Business Australia

Marise Donnolley is a journalist and editor with more than 20 years' experience in the media. 

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