COVID-19 and primary industries

This information relates specifically to how COVID-19 affects primary industries related businesses such as agriculture, food and wine.

COVID-19 hotline

Phone: 1800 253 787

Key points

  • COVID-19 is not a foodborne disease. There is no evidence that food can transmit COVID-19 to humans.
  • Primary industry production and the entire food supply chain are essential services and can continue to operate as normal (with consideration of social distancing and other restrictions).
  • There is no evidence that livestock can transmit COVID-19 to humans through contact.
  • South Australian businesses need to have robust biosecurity practices. Good, hygienic processes can reduce the effects of the virus on your business and the public.
  • The Prime Minister has indicated the restrictions could last up to six months. They will be reviewed regularly, and extra steps may be taken if required.

Latest updates and announcements

Closure of wineries in South Australia – State media release 30 March 2020

Agriculture saleyards and auctions can continue – Federal media release 27 March 2020

Stimulus measures to support businesses and the community impacted by COVID-19 – State Government announcement

Rescue package to save SA jobs – State media release 26 March 2020

National Cabinet update – Federal, 26 March 2020

National COVID-19 coordination commission – Federal, 26 March 2020

Agricultural jobs essential to Australia – Federal media release 25 March 2020

Coronavirus measures – Federal media release 24 March 2020

Changes to rock lobster commercial fishing quota –  State media release 23 March 2020

Coronavirus measures – Federal media release 22 March 2020

Essential and non-essential businesses

Restrictions are in place for non-essential businesses in South Australia.

See section 3 of the State Coordinator's non-essential businesses and other gatherings closure document on the state government's Emergency Declarations and Directives page.

The current restrictions do not apply to primary industries, including commercial fisheries and aquaculture sector and the food supply chain. These businesses are an essential service and can continue to operate but must follow social distancing and hygiene guidelines.

Border closures – what does that mean for my business?

A direction was issued by the State Coordinator on travel into South Australia. Check the SA Police website for up to date information about travelling across the border.

Restrictions have been placed on some non-essential services. All agricultural industries and related businesses across the food supply chain are an essential service. They can continue to operate as usual:

  • trucks and freight services carrying food and produce
  • feed, hay, fertilizer and other agriculture products
  • Veterinary and animal health/welfare services
  • people who have skills that are critical to agricultural or primary industries and who need to be physically present in South Australia
  • farmers with properties on either side of the border. They can move machinery, livestock and bees.

See the SA Government website for a full description of the restrictions.


Essential travellers and services are exempt from the border closures.

There is no application or permits for exemptions. It is a self-assessment process.

If you enter South Australia you may be stopped by police at checkpoints. If you're an 'essential traveller' you will need to show evidence of this. If no evidence is provided, you will be directed to self-quarantine.

Read more about the exemptions.

Air travel

See SA Health's website for information about self-isolation and quarantine.


Ports are open and operating under a number of restrictions. Read the marine information fact sheet to know more.

Business closures – what are the restrictions on my business?

Supermarkets and produce markets

Can remain open. They are an essential service and can continue to operate until the situation or restrictions change.

This includes the Adelaide Central Markets and the Adelaide Produce Markets at Pooraka.

Social distancing must be practiced (keeping 1.5 meters away from people around you).

Wineries and cellar doors

Wineries, cellar doors and restaurants located at wineries in South Australia must be closed. They can no longer open to sell food and take-away beverages. This includes click and collect services.

Online and telephone sales can continue provided delivery is through a winery representative or a commercial courier service.

Wineries that sell food commercially to supermarkets and retail stores are permitted to produce and sell products, but food products must be transported to retail outlets by commercial freight or the winery itself.

Home delivery, take away and pick up

Home delivery, take away and pick up of food and beverages (including liquor) is permitted for:

  • restaurants
  • cafes
  • pubs and hotels
  • food courts.

These businesses are currently closed for normal visitation and can open only if they provide take away and pick-up services.

When offering take away/pick up you must make sure:

  • social distancing is maintained
  • time spent on your premises is kept to a minimum (just to conclude the transaction)
  • the number of customers on your premises is kept to a minimum.

Liquor licences

Liquor licence holders who operate a small bar, cafe or restaurant, can now apply for a free short-term, temporary licence to be able to sell a small amount of liquor with take away meals.

Read the media release.

More information

Read the Prime Minister's media releases:

Business support – how do I keep operating and responding?

Keeping your business operating

The Department for Innovation and Skills has advice and support to help you respond to COVID-19 while keeping your business running. You can find information on:

  • economic response package
  • managing your business through crisis
  • supporting staff
  • managing exports and imports.

Managing staff

Read SA Health’s Advice for businesses and organisations factsheet (PDF 117KB) for information on how to manage staff who are being tested, or who have tested positive for COVID-19, workplace cleaning practices and social distancing in the workplace.

Managing contractors

If your business employs contractors and any contractor is displaying symptoms, such as fever or coughing, you can stop them entering your business.

Before contractors enter your business, ask them for a guarantee that they have not:

  • had contact in the last 14 days with anyone who has tested positive to COVID-19
  • travelled overseas within the last 14 days.

Read SA Health’s Advice for businesses and industry.

Rescue package to save SA jobs

The government has a new Jobs Rescue Package to help save South Australian jobs and support key industries and local businesses.

More details will be released soon. Read the media release.

Australian Government Economic Stimulus Package business measures

The Australian Government has announced a $18.9 billion economic plan in response to coronavirus COVID-19.

Support for businesses

Cash flow assistances for businesses
  • Providing up to $100,000 to eligible small and medium sized businesses, and not‑for-profits (including charities) that employ people. Minimum payment of $20,000.
  • Providing 50% wage subsidies to eligible employers of apprentices and trainees for up to nine months from 1 January to 30 September 2020.
  • Up to $125 billion in support for credit to flow through $20 billion of loan guarantees for small businesses, and actions announced on Thursday 20 March to support $90 billion of business lending.
Regulatory protection and financial support for businesses to stay in business
  • A Coronavirus SME Guarantee Scheme which will support small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to get access to working capital to help them get them through the impact of the coronavirus.
  • Temporarily increasing the threshold at which creditors can issue a statutory demand on a company and the time companies have to respond to statutory demands they receive.
Delivering support for business investment
  • An increase the instant asset write-off threshold from $30,000 to $150,000 and expand access to include businesses with aggregated annual turnover of less than $500 million (up from $50 million) until 30 June 2020.
  • A time limited 15-month investment incentive (through to 30 June 2021) to support business investment and economic growth over the short term, by accelerating depreciation deductions.
Support for workers and households
  • Temporarily expanding eligibility to income support payments and establishing a new, time-limited Coronavirus supplement to be paid at a rate of $550 per fortnight
  • Allowing individuals in financial stress as a result of Coronavirus to access up to $10,000 of their superannuation in 2019–20 and a further $10,000 in 2020–21.

Read more about the Australian Government’s economic response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Food and agribusinesses – how do I meet standards and safety?

Food safety aspects of COVID-19

Currently there is no evidence that the virus is transmitted by food.

Industry has developed protocols in line with current national COVID-19 health information to help minimise risk to business and its workforce.

The guidelines include information on:

  • protecting the health and safety of your employees, their families and broader community
  • maintaining the ongoing supply of food and beverages to Australian consumers while supporting food security
  • keeping businesses operating to make sure
    • the supply chain is not put at risk
    • there is ongoing job security for your workforce.

Workforce impacts

While there is no evidence that COVID-19 is transmitted via food, there is no immunity in the general human population and the disease is highly infectious. Businesses should adopt practical measures to reduce the risk of spread between staff or to the general public.

Protecting my workforce

Review SafeWork SA's workplace guidelines. Below are the key guidances for food businesses.

Review the health of staff

  • Make sure all staff understand the importance and regulations about not working when sick.
  • Check staff daily to make sure they're well enough to work. If they're unwell with flu-like symptoms, exclude them from the workplace immediately and ask them to self-isolate for 14 days.

Reinforce good hand hygiene

Proper hand washing is one of the most effective tools to prevent the spread of novel coronavirus.

  • There should be more handwashing under the current circumstances (after going to the bathroom, touching your face, after handling raw food) and should be done effectively according Department of Health guidelines.
  • Set up extra handwashing and sanitising stations throughout the business.
  • If you can't find liquid soap or hand sanitiser, a cake or bar of soap and water are equally effective.

Review the shift arrangements and social interaction of workforce

Changes to limit contact between workers will be effective in slowing down the spread of novel coronavirus and reduce the impact on businesses that have a staff member positive for COVID-19.

See the Australian Government Department of Health website for more guidance on social distancing.

  • Increase time between shifts or service periods (e.g. breakfast and lunch; day/night shifts)
    This will minimise staff interaction and allow more time for increased cleaning.
  • Limit the number of people in contact on a production floor or kitchen, where possible
    In production areas or within staff teams, have the same people stand or work next to one another each day. This will limit the spread of novel coronavirus between staff should infection occur.
  • Minimise the overlapping of shifts/rosters as much as possible.
  • Review customer entry points and interaction to optimise social distancing
    Use customer control methods to meet social distancing requirements, e.g. a ticket system to control entry into the shop. Place signs near the ticketing system that explain customers should wait in line and maintain at least two metres between each other.
  • Review staff roles and points of contact
    Restrict face-to-face meetings as much as possible. Keep any meeting to less than 15 minutes. Identify what roles or areas within a business may be able to work from home or away from other staff. Avoid staff congregating in carparks or other common areas after their shift.

Look after the health of your workers

Taking steps to increase staff welfare and health is essential to address any concerns about the present COVID-19 outbreak.

  • Have staff get a flu shot as quickly as possible
    A flu shot will not protect workers from COVID-19, but it will help to reduce any combined impact of seasonal influenza and novel coronavirus on staffing and production.
  • Reassure staff where possible
    The scale of the novel coronavirus pandemic is unprecedented. Check in with staff on a regular basis to review their welfare and address any concerns as quickly as possible.

Encourage staff to be open about symptoms and express any concerns around personal circumstances if they need to go into quarantine, including job security. There is a risk they may continue to work while infectious if they believe their job security is threatened.

Dealing with customers who are ill or staff waiting on a COVID-19 test

A customer or other individual enters my business and is displaying cold/flu symptoms. Can I refuse them service?

All members of the public have an obligation to stay at home while displaying any symptoms such as fever or coughing. Businesses have the right to refuse service and insist that anyone with these symptoms leaves the premises.

A worker is waiting for the outcome of a test for COVID-19. Should they be excluded from work?

Any worker waiting for the outcome of a test for COVID-19 should isolate as per the factsheet for suspected cases.

If you have been tested for COVID-19 and the result was negative you must still remain in isolation if:

  • you have been identified as a close contact of a person with confirmed COVID-19 while they were infectious – you must isolate yourself for 14 days after your last contact with that person
  • you have been overseas in the last 14 days – you must isolate yourself for 14 days from the day you arrived back. Do not undertake any food handling activity or face-to-face interaction with other workers.

An employee has tested positive for COVID-19. What do I do?

Protection of public health is paramount and quarantine of confirmed cases and close contacts is essential to prevent further illness, risk to human life, and associated burden on health resources.

Maintaining food security is also a critical function of industry and government. Blanket shut downs of large scale facilities are unlikely to be necessary or helpful in addressing public health, provided there are adequate measures in place to reduce the risk of transfer between employees. In many cases, businesses already have strict hygiene measures in place to address food safety and biosecurity risks. These measures will also be effective in reducing the spread of novel coronavirus among workers.

Where businesses can demonstrate good manufacturing practice, such as:

  • Staff routinely wear PPE (gloves, overalls, protective clothing).
  • Adherence to strict hand washing procedures.
  • Adoption of rigorous cleaning and sanitising programs throughout the entire production facility.
  • Enhanced procedures to support social distancing between employees (at least 1.5m).

A full shutdown of a facility and quarantine of all employees may be an unnecessary precaution and have other ramifications such as animal welfare, and loss of confidence in the food supply.

In the absence of the above procedures or if a business is unable to demonstrate these procedures or behaviours, diagnosis of COVID-19 in an employee is likely to have a greater impact.

Actions in the event of an employee diagnosed with COVID-19

Isolation of the infected employee

Any employee diagnosed with COVID-19 will be isolated and must follow the directions of public health authorities. They will not be released from isolation until they have recovered (tested negative).

Rapid tracing of close contacts

A business must work with local public health authorities to rapidly trace any close contact of an infected employee to minimise further risk of spread. Prompt tracing of close contacts is essential to minimise any disruption to production.

What happens to close contacts?

Close contacts will be asked to home isolate at the direction of public health authorities for 14 days. For more information see SA Health

What is the definition of a close contact in a food business?

Where a business is able to demonstrate good manufacturing practice and hygiene, a close contact may be defined as:

Anyone who has been within 1.5 metres of the infected employee for a cumulative period of at least 2 hours at any time in the 24 hours prior to that employee first experiencing symptoms.


An employee who has had face-to-face contact for a period of 15 minutes or more. This type of contact may also occur in a lunchroom, small kitchen space, or other environment (separate to a production room floor, for example).

Will food safety audits/inspections continue as usual at the moment?

Yes. It's a priority for the Australian food regulators and the Australian food regulation system to maintain confidence and oversight of food safety in food supply.

Food Safety audit and inspection officers will observe the same personal health procedures for COVID-19 as those expected of food businesses and the public, with these additions:

  • Increased focus on maintaining personal hygiene (e.g. increased hand washing).
  • Social distancing practices (1.5 metre separation between persons).

If audit/inspection staff report flu like symptoms (sore throat, fever, cough), they will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days to minimise the risk of transmission.

To keep audit and inspection staff safe, virtual auditing (video conferencing), desk audits or provision of electronic data on key food safety system performance measures may be introduced.

Advice on the administration of regulatory foods safety audits and inspections will continue to be reviewed as further information about COVID-19 is available.

Contact your relevant food regulator if you have questions about the regulatory food safety audit and inspection processes.

Food safety accreditation

Now is a good time to make sure you’re up to date with accreditation. See PIRSA’s food safety page for more information.

More information

Trading – how are exports and sales affected?

Exporting product from the state

Essential travel which maintains health, the food supply chain and the state’s economic needs is allowed across our state's border.

Ports, airports and roads will maintain some freight movement. For companies exporting to markets around the world, business is being affected due to COVID-19 in each location.

Department for Trade and Investment has information for exporters and companies.

Attending saleyards, including from interstate

The Australian Chief Veterinary Officer has stated that saleyards can go ahead but must follow strict social distancing guidelines – keeping at least 1.5 metres from those around you.

Travel needs fall under the ‘essential travellers’ and no application or exemption is required.

Transporting workers in the same vehicle – is it okay?


Primary industries are an essential service and where it is necessary to transport workers by vehicle businesses can continue to do so.

However, it is recommended that workers travelling by vehicle be limited to maintain social distancing of 1.5m.

Employers should make sure there is adequate space between passengers, for example 2 people in a typical sedan would ensure social distancing can be practiced.

Make sure that fresh air is circulated in the vehicle for the duration of the journey.

The inside of vehicles should be regularly cleaned and surfaces disinfected, paying particular attention to frequently touched surfaces. Information on cleaning and disinfection principles for COVID-19 is available from the Department of Health.

We encourage everyone to practice good hand hygiene by washing hands with soap and water or using hand sanitiser.

This information may change frequently so for the most up-to-date information always check

Recreational fishing – can I still go fishing?


There have been no restrictions placed by the South Australian Government on fishing as an activity if you are well and are not in quarantine or self-isolation.

However, it is crucial to adhere to the advice of SA Health in regards to social distancing if you decide to go fishing. Keep at least 1.5 metres away from other people, and follow the social distancing guidelines allow at least 4 square meters for each person.

Do not congregate or gather in groups – pay particular attention around jetties, piers, boat ramps and land-based fishing locations.

If social distancing cannot be maintained, please stay at home and minimise social interactions.

We encourage you to fish locally, near where you live and avoid non-essential travel.

Wash your hands with soap or hand sanitiser before entering your house, or directly upon your return.

This information may change frequently so for the most up-to-date information always check

Animal health – are my animals at risk?

There is no evidence that the virus can be transmitted between animals and humans.

COVID-19 hasn’t been reported in domestic animals or wildlife in Australia.

Good hygiene practices when handling animals are recommended. See PIRSA's COVID-19 and animal health page.

Visa extensions – can I apply for one?

If you employ overseas visitors in your operation, your employees may be able to apply for visa extensions, depending on their circumstances. Check the Home Affairs website regularly for updates to visa eligibility.

For consumers

Follow health advice and stay home if you are sick and seek medical attention.

There is no reason to avoid certain foods or specific cuisine as a result of COVID-19.

Good hygiene is important in helping protect yourself against infection and stop the virus from spreading.

For primary producers

Self-isolation and quarantine

If you are a primary producer and have been ordered to self-isolate or quarantine, you must remain within the boundaries of your property and not have direct contact with other people.

Essential travel within and between land parcels is acceptable, provided you do not have any contact with staff, contractors and visitors (e.g. stay in your vehicle with windows closed to allow contractors or deliveries to enter the property via a gate).

If you develop symptoms of COVID-19 you must not travel outside the boundaries of your main property except to seek testing for COVID-19 or for urgent medical care.

Visit the SA Health website for more information about self-isolating and quarantine.


The National Farmers Federation has advised that the FarmHub has launched three dedicated pages to help our farming community access relevant information in one central location. The new additions aim to provide users with:

Livestock and wool auctions

Livestock and wool auctions can go ahead so long as strict social distancing at saleyards is practiced (keeping at least 1.5 metres from those around you). Travel needs fall under the ‘essential travellers’ exemptions in the cross-border directive.

Read the media release.

Mental health support

It’s normal to feel stress and worry when there is a health event happening in the community.

If you or your business has been affected by coronavirus, it is important to look after your mental health as well as your physical wellbeing.

If you notice a change in the way you, or others around you, are thinking or feeling, here are some resources so you can maintain positive mental health.

SA Health

Mental health emergency hotline: 13 14 65
Website: Mental health services
Read the SA Health Mental Health impacts of coronavirus (COVID-19) factsheet.

Mental Health Triage

Phone: 13 14 65
Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week (country and metropolitan areas)

Beyond Blue

Phone: 1300 22 46 36

Lifeline Australia

Phone: 13 11 14

Regional Access Program

Phone: 1300 032 186
Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week

Rural Health Connect

Speak to a psychologist online via video conferencing.

Phone: 0427 692 377

Mental health resources for farmers


Lived Experience Telephone Support Service (LETSS)

Phone: 1800 013 755
A peer mental health support line, available 5 pm – 11.30 pm

Youth Beyond Blue

For people under 25 years of age.

Phone: 1300 224 636


For people under 25 years of age.

Phone: 1800 650 890

Hand sanitiser and face masks

Hand sanitiser suppliers

Face mask suppliers


SA Health COVID-19

  • Information for business and industry
  • Latest news and updates

Major emergency declaration and directions

Australian Government Department of Health COVID-19

Food Standards Australia New Zealand for advice and answers to questions, such as:

  • Can the virus be transmitted through food?
  • How do I prevent people in my business transmitting the virus?
  • Is soap and water enough for washing hands?
  • How do I properly clean and sanitise my equipment and facilities?
  • What if someone in my business is unwell?

FarmHub connects Australian farmers to a range of services and support.

Piper Alderman Coronavirus Resilience and Recovery – Legal Responses to COVID-19

Australian Tax Office

Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman

My Business Health – a web portal designed to provide holistic support to small business owners, which now features a dedicated section for those struggling with the COVID-19 crisis.

Page Last Reviewed: 30 Mar 2020
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