Coronavirus crisis: WA to introduce mandatory QR code tracing, with big fines for non-compliance

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Western Australia looks set to be the last State to fully open its border to Victoria, as compulsory contact registers are next week reintroduced for a host of businesses and venues.

From December 5, contact registers for staff and patrons will be mandatory at food and licenced venues; gyms, indoor sporting centres and pools; churches and funeral parlours; beauty salons and hairdressers; galleries and museums; cinemas and theatres; auction houses and real estate inspections; libraries and community halls; zoos and amusement parks; function centres; and hostels, hotels and camping grounds.

There will be fines of up to $50,000 for individuals and $250,000 for businesses, or up to 12 months’ in prison, for failing to comply with the emergency direction, which will be enforced by the police and councils.

From today, businesses can choose to download a free COVID-19 contact register app, SafeWA, that allows patrons aged over 16 to check-in on arrival at venues by scanning a QR code with their phone.

The data, which incudes names and phone numbers, would be encrypted and only accessible by the Health Department for coronavirus contact tracing purposes. After 28 days the records would be deleted.

Records are not required to be collected for people collecting takeaway, despite the Adelaide outbreak initially being centred on a takeaway pizza store. Staff at fast food outlets would have to register under the new rules.

Venues can also choose to use other electronic tools or a paper-based system. It comes about six months after the State Government dumped contact registers as coronavirus restrictions were lifted.

WA has not had any cases of community transmission since April, but the number of infections in hotel quarantine continues to rise as Europe and the United States experiences a deadly second wave.

“This is a precautionary measure put in place in case we have an outbreak come back so we can immediately contact trace and so we could scale up the system as soon as we need to, if we have an outbreak,” Mark McGowan said.

“This is about being careful and having precautions in place for the future. Whilst it is a tiny inconvenience to people, it's a safety issue. Other States are doing up, we're doing it.”

BUSINESSES REQUIRED TO REGISTER CONTACTS

  • Food and licensed venues
  • Gyms, indoor sporting centres and pools
  • Places of worship and funeral parlours
  • Beauty and personal care services including hairdressers and barbers
  • Galleries and museums, cinemas, theatres and other entertainment venues
  • Auction houses and real estate inspections
  • Community facilities, libraries and halls
  • Zoos and amusement parks
  • Function centres
  • Accommodation facilities that already have check-in arrangements in place.

Meanwhile, Queensland announced it would open its border with Victoria on December 1, four days after Tasmania does the same.

The changes mean WA will be the only States that requires travellers from Victoria to self-quarantine for 14 days on arrival.

This is despite Victoria on Friday reaching WA’s trigger point for quarantine-free travel — 28 days with no community cases from an unknown source.

NSW is on track to hit the same 28-day mark in the middle of next week. About 40 per cent of those registering to travel WA are in Victoria or NSW.

The Premier said he would receive updated advice from Chief Health Officer Andy Robertson on or around Friday about interstate travel, taking into account the testing regime and border controls of the two States.

“People from Victoria can come here currently, they just have to quarantine. I haven’t heard many complaints about that, I think that’s reasonably fair,” he said.

New Opposition leader Zak Kirkup has vowed to support all of Dr Robertson’s advice on the pandemic, but called for the advice to be immediately released.

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