Customer records to stop virus – Contact registers back in weeks

Shared from the 11/8/2020 The West Australian eEdition

BUSINESSES including cafes and restaurants will have to start collecting the contact details of their customers again by December under a McGowan Government measure to protect West Australians from a second wave of coronavirus.

It will be up to businesses to decide what form the contact registers would be, but the Government will make available a QR code registration system — a digital contact tracing system — for businesses which want to use them.

Rules requiring businesses to keep a paper register of customers were phased out earlier this year as WA recorded no community transmission of COVID-19.

But the Government now believes it’s time to re-introduce compulsory contact registers in light of countries like Britain, Germany and France going back into lockdown after second and third waves of the disease.

Tourism and Small Business Minister Paul Papalia said yesterday he had met “a wide range of representatives” this week to discuss compulsory contact registers which would be required for small businesses and venues such as restaurants, bars, gyms and aged care facilities.

“I and other State Government representatives met with a wide range of business representatives this week to undertake consultation around how WA can update and enhance its COVID-safe measures in the longer term,” he said.

“Part of this process included discussions around our plans to reintroduce contact registers as a requirement in the near future.

“A consistent QR code registration system provided by the WA Government will also be made available.

“The consultation session and feedback from industry is now helping inform the development of contract register measures and other mechanisms to ensure our COVID safety plans provide the best possible protections for Western Australians. It doesn’t matter how successful WA or our nation has been, the threat of COVID-19 is real and unfortunately it won’t be going away anytime soon.

“We need to think about the longer term, to stay COVIDsafe here in WA and allow us to continue to have an open and vibrant economy. A contact register will be a simple mechanism to help keep us safe.

“As a Government we are committed to making sure businesses can keep doing business, no matter the impact of the virus around the world.”

WA has not had any community transmission of COVID-19 for months.

But WA’s hard border comes down on Saturday, replaced with a “controlled border”.

Starting on November 14, anyone from any Australian State or Territory except NSW or Victoria can come to WA without having to quarantine on arrival.

But there will be conditions, including temperature tests on arrival.

Dome managing director Nigel Oakey yesterday welcomed the re-introduction of compulsory contact registers, saying “it was a great idea”.

He said compulsory registers would hopefully also prevent another lockdown in WA, should there be further outbreaks of the disease.

“Retail and hospitality are places of gathering and therefore it is good if we can assist in providing a robust contact tracing system and network,” Mr Oakey said.

“We can be part of that.”

He said another lockdown in WA would be devastating.

“The prospect of another nine-week shutdown does not bear thinking about,” he said.

He particularly backed an electronic tracing system.

“The paper systems, last time around, were variable across businesses,” he said.

“I think in the event of an incident or an outbreak, the collection of all that data from businesses all over the place is more problematic than if you have got an electronic system.”