It can be easy to get confused about Essential Services and Support Services, with some businesses not operating when they could be, and some businesses operating when they should not.
While VCCI is still seeking more clarity on this from the Government, here’s our current guidelines and answers to some of the questions we are asked frequently.
If you are still unsure, please ring our VCCI on call staff member Marineth on 27543 / 7123967 and she will be able to assist you. If she does not have the answer you need immediately, she will research it and reply to you in a timely manner.
We wish to also acknowledge the hardships the lockdown curfew is causing businesses not on the essential services list, and confirm that we are talking to the Government about ways they can assist you during this difficult time.
What is an Essential Service or support service?
To be an essential service or a support service you need to fall under the industry sectors listed on the approved list from the Government, which can be found here.
If you are on this list you can operate, meaning you can open your business, with the following restrictions:
Only essential staff
This means, to be working in the same work space or area, only staff that are essential to you being able to operate should be at work. This is to keep everyone safe as you should be keeping your distance from one another, which is 1.5 metres. The rule is in place to keep exposure between one another to a minimum. Any staff member not essential should be at home or working from home.
Practicing Safe Business Operations
We recommend you open following the protocols learnt in the Safe Business Operations training that is COVID specific and Government approved. Once you have attended this you will have a sticker to display in your window/entrance.
Have you, or your nominated safety officer attended a Safe Business Operations workshop with VCCI, VITE or VSP? If not we suggest booking a workshop immediately by calling Adrian on 7780870 (Efate) or Candyce on 5580870 (Santo).
This training covers things like how to correctly wear protective items such as masks , physical distancing, how to correctly clean your workplace and practicing safe customer interaction practices.
Think carefully about your workplace and about the safety of your workers. Only have people working if you know you are following all the best protocols and the work is ESSENTIAL.
Some specific questions we have been asked
If I am a restaurant can I operate?
You can operate as a take away only. You should be not having customers in your establishment, but they can pick up an order from the door.
If I am retail can I operate?
You can operate only if you are providing food. You cannot operate if you are only selling clothes for example. If you are selling food, make sure you are minimising contact and operating safely. Here’s a link to the Standard Operating Procedures for retail businesses.
If I am a construction business, can I operate?
Yes you can, but your staff must be working safely and responsibly – for example wearing masks at all times. You need to organise safe transport to and from the workplace that complies with 1.5 meter distancing and you are responsible for ensuring only essential workers are working.
I am a hardware, can I operate?
You can, but you are a support service, meaning you are ‘on call’. You cannot open your doors normally, but you can have staff working with doors closed and fulfilling ordered collected by phone or email. An example of what you can send your customer base is attached.
I am considered a support service and can operate ‘on call’, how do I do this?
You can operate, but not be open to the public. You may find the link above useful to work out how to do so safely.
I am an accounting/law firm, can I operate?
You can, but you must be closed to the public, and following SBO guidelines. You cannot compel staff to work if they choose not to.
My staff catch buses to work, how can they get there?
VCCI has trained many bus drivers in safe operating, please look for the green tick sticker in their window. Make sure the bus is well ventilated (windows open), everyone is masked and distancing is being adhered to.
Cleaning staff, domestic staff, gardeners – can they work?
We are still seeking clarity on this, but we support their need to work. This is a grey area and we will get back to you asap on this.
What if I need to operate during the hours of 6pm to 6am?
For any business wishing to operate between the hours of 6pm and 6am during curfew time please visit the MoH for passes.
For any further questions please give us a call. We are here to support you.