Over the past few weeks, many State Governments have made contact tracing mandatory and introduced enhanced QR Code contact tracing measures to make the process more efficient and help stop the spread of COVID 19.
QR codes operate like barcodes and are read using smartphone cameras. If a patron does not have a smartphone, or chooses not to use a QR code to check-in, businesses must maintain a manual contact register, whether paper-based or digital. All records should be retained for a minimum of 28 days and provided to the relevant state health department upon request. Businesses are encouraged to exercise their legal rights and refuse entry to any patrons who refuse to register.
Each State has developed their own contact tracing app that uses the QR technology to register patron details, and automatically uploads the information to the relevant state health department. Businesses are encouraged to use the Government developed apps and register as part of their COVID- Safe Plan to receive their free unique QR Code.
Retailers in Queensland and New South Wales should be aware that their obligations differ to other states.
Queensland retailer obligations
As of Wednesday, 23 December, all businesses in the hospitality industry (such as pubs, clubs, restaurants and cafés) in Queensland must have QR codes or electronic devices to record patrons’ attendance.
Manual registers will no longer be allowed as all registration of patrons must be electronic moving forward. This information is still required to be held for a period of a minimum of 30 days and a maximum of 56 days.
The change to electronic registration comes in response to growing cases in New South Wales and aims to address the current issues with manual registers such as incomplete details or illegible handwriting.
New South Wales retailer obligations
From Monday, 23 November, it is mandatory for businesses to use electronic check-in methods to collect patron details.
Under the new requirement, businesses are also required to ensure patrons have provided the required information and must deny entry to those who fail to provide valid details. The obligation of the business goes as far as having a staff member verify that patrons have submitted the required contact details electronically via QR Code by means of sighting confirmation that check-in has been completed.
It is not mandatory under government regulations to verify valid details have been provided, by means of cross-checking details provided against a license or other form of identification, but it is an option to do so as part of your Covid Safe practices.
Unlike NSW, although maintaining a register of all patrons is mandatory in other States, businesses can decide which method to use.
The State Governments are strongly urging businesses to use their unique contact tracing apps as the primary means of collecting patron details as they provide a hygienic, contactless way of signing into a venue, protecting the privacy of patrons and simplifying business record-keeping for more efficient contact tracing.