Western Australia to reintroduce contact tracing

The new SafeWA app aims to make contact tracing easier for both venues and patrons, volunteers and visitors with a simple scanning system to register attendance at each location.
The new SafeWA app aims to make contact tracing easier for both venues and patrons, volunteers and visitors with a simple scanning system to register attendance at each location.

A new mobile app released by the WA State Government will allow people to register their attendance at public venues as part of the reintroduction of mandatory contact tracing.

From Saturday December 5, it will be mandatory for relevant venues to maintain a contact tracing register, either through a physical sign in register, the mobile app, or a combination of both.

Failing to comply to the new requirements could result in fines and penalties of up to $50,000 for an individual and $250,000 for a body corporate or 12 months' imprisonment.

In a statement released on Wednesday, Premier Mark McGowan said Western Australians, and visitors to the State, needed to maintain COVID-19 safe practices for the foreseeable future.

Victoria is due to meet that benchmark on Friday, but the premier remains adamant there is no guarantee the quarantine requirement will be removed.

"We'll consider it, I expect, around then," he told reporters on Wednesday.

"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."

Mr McGowan said health authorities would take into account the other states' sewerage testing results, border arrangements and testing regimes.

He rejected concerns that the government's position was hurting business certainty.

"I meet scores of business people. They all like the fact we've kept COVID out and our economy is very, very successful," he said.

WA's border closures remain highly popular ahead of the March state election.

Newly-elected opposition leader Zak Kirkup has sought to neutralise the issue, saying the Liberals will be on a unity ticket with the government over the policy.

"There will be no deviation between the Liberal party and the Labor party when it comes to COVID-19," he said.

The new SafeWA app aims to make contact tracing easier for both venues and patrons, volunteers and visitors with a simple scanning system to register attendance at each location.

The new SafeWA app aims to make contact tracing easier for both venues and patrons, volunteers and visitors with a simple scanning system to register attendance at each location.

Businesses or venues required to keep a contact register include:

  • food and licenced venues (restaurants, caf├ęs, bars, pubs, taverns, nightclubs);
  • 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; and
  • accommodation facilities that already have check-in arrangements in place (i.e. hostels,
  • hotels, large camp grounds)

The measure is based on health advice and is a recommendation of the National Contact Tracing Review, presented by the Australian Chief Scientist Dr Alan Finkel.

The SafeWA app allows businesses and venues to register and receive special posters bearing QR codes, which can then be used by patrons to scan using the same app.

The app registers the patron's attendance with data encrypted at the point of capture, stored securely and only accessible by authorised Department of Health contact tracing personnel, should COVID-19 contact tracing be necessary.

Alternative formats for mandatory contact registers are available, including other electronic tools or a paper-based system, depending on what is suitable for the business, venue or individual.

The details required for the contact register will include the date, arrival time, names and telephone numbers.

Any person aged 16 years and over who attends a business, place or premises listed above, including patrons, staff, volunteers and contractors will be required to register their contact details.

Records are not required to be collected for people collecting takeaway or children under 16 years.

The register records will only be required to be held for a 28-day period, and will only be used for necessary COVID-19 contact tracing, should the Department of Health require it, before it is disposed of in accordance with data privacy laws.

Health Minister Roger Cook said it was necessary for measures to be in place to avoid potential outbreaks getting out of control.

"We are seeing second and third waves and new lockdown measures in many countries around the world," Mr Cook said.

"This serves as a constant reminder that our COVID safe measures must be continually maintained and updated to ensure we protect Western Australia.

"While to date WA remains free of community transmission, we need to have processes in place in case it is required by our WA health and response teams."

SafeWA can be downloaded from Apple App Store or Google Play Store from Wednesday, November 25, 2020.

This will allow businesses and venues, which choose to use the SafeWA app, time to implement it for Saturday, December 5, 2020.

More information can be found at www.wa.gov.au/SafeWA

This story WA to reintroduce contact tracing for venues, churches, salons and more first appeared on Augusta-Margaret River Mail.