Western Australia expands mandatory SafeWA QR code COVID-19 register

From February 12, retail venues such as supermarkets and shopping centres, public and private hospitals, and takeaway food and beverage services will be required to register patrons using the SafeWA QR code.
Written by Aimee Chanthadavong, Contributor

Additional Western Australian businesses have been added to the list of premises that will be required to use the WA government's SafeWA QR code for COVID-19 contact tracing registrations from February 12.

These additional venues include retail venues such as supermarkets and shopping centres; commercial buses or vessels that have a capacity of 12 or more people; public and private hospitals; takeaway food and beverage services; and events with 500-plus patrons and functions such as weddings or corporate functions.

Since December 5, when it was launched, the WA contact register system has only been applicable to food and licensed venues; gyms, health and wellness centres, and fitness centres; indoor play centres; saunas and bathhouses; public swimming pools; places of worship and funeral parlours; beauty and personal care services including hairdressers, nail salons, tattoo parlours, spa and massage parlours; galleries and museums; indoor and outdoor cinemas; gambling venues; open houses; community facilities; function centres; accommodation facilities; zoos, wildlife parks and amusement parks; and adult entertainment premises such as strip clubs and brothels.

While it's not yet mandatory for public transport users, they are also being encouraged by the WA government to make sure their SmartRider card are registered and their contact details are up to date in case they are required to be used for contact tracing.

The SafeWA QR Code will also be made available to passengers using the Central Area Transit business in the "coming weeks", the WA government said.

See also: Living with COVID-19 creates a privacy dilemma for us all

According to the state government, once a patron checks in using the SafeWA app, their information is sent directly to WA Health, and is "securely stored for 28 days, unless it is needed for contact tracing purposes".

The state government said the expansion follows a review of the contact register system and it is only a precautionary measure.

"When contact registers were implemented in WA in December last year, we said regular reviews would be undertaken and new measures would be introduced as needed," Premier Mark McGowan said.

"So far West Aussies have done an incredible job in adapting to those changes but we now need to strengthen them, especially in the face of the evolving nature of the virus overseas.

"While WA remains free of community transmission, we continue to learn from what's occurring over east and overseas. With variant strains becoming more prevalent, we need to bolster our processes in case contact tracing is required by our WA health and response teams."

In addition, from February 12, any businesses already using their own QR code for registration will be required to also clearly display the state government's SafeWA QR code.

Failing to comply with these new requirements could result in penalties of up to AU$50,000 for an individual and AU$250,000 for a business, or 12 months' imprisonment.

More than 1.1 million Western Australians are already using the SafeWA app and it has already been downloaded by 32,000 businesses.

Read: Coronavirus: Business and technology in a pandemic    

A similar QR contact tracing system is in place in New South Wales.

Elsewhere within the WA government, a new website designed to promote Western Australia as an "investment and trade destination" to attract investors and buyers from domestic and overseas markets has been stood up.

Details as part of the new Invest and Trade WA website include profiles about industries in the state including mining, technology, energy, primary industry, health and medical technology, as well as information for WA businesses looking for investors or that plan to expand their export capability. 

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