The Western Australian Government has announced that from 5 December certain businesses – including all pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes – will need to maintain contact registers as part of the state’s COVIDSafe measures.

The reintroduction of contact registers is an additional protection measure and will assist with WA Department of Health contact tracing, should it be required.

Designated businesses and venues will be required to collect the date, name, telephone number and arrival time of all patrons, staff, visitors and contractors that attend the premises, other than to collect takeaway. The contact register records must be kept for 28 days, and not used for any other purpose.

“It’s because of the hard work of Western Australians that we have been able to get our State back on track and operate as close to normal as possible. What’s important now is that we stay the course and keep up COVID safe principles,” said Premier Mark McGowan.

“Unfortunately COVID-19 is going to present a threat to our lives and livelihoods for some time, so it is important we have the systems in place to keep us safe in the longer term.

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

In an effort to streamline the return to contact tracing, the State Government has released a free app, SafeWA, which will provide businesses with a digital COVID-19 contact register system, endorsed by the Department of Health.

SafeWA includes unique QR codes for venues which patrons can scan to register their attendance. Data will be encrypted at the point of capture, stored securely and only be accessible by authorised Department of Health contact tracing personnel, should COVID-19 contact tracing be necessary.

The app is being provided as a free, easy, contactless solution, but is not mandatory. Alternative formats for mandatory contact registers are available, including other electronic tools or a paper-based system, depending on what a venue deems most suitable.

AHA(WA) has welcomed the announcement of the use of simple contact tracing systems, having been in discussions with the government for some time to ensure that contact tracing requirements would not place an unreasonable burden on hospitality venues. As such, it is urging operators to use the SafeWA app.

“The SafeWA QR code system is a very simple, easy to register app that is far less complicated than those adopted in other States and Territories, where there are dozens of different companies collecting customer data and requiring patrons to register multiple times,” stated AHA(WA) CEO Bradley Woods.

With 27 active COVID cases in Western Australia – most from people returning from overseas – the implementation of contact tracing is hoped to curb any future waves of the virus.

“We are seeing second and third waves and new lockdown measures in many countries around the world. This serves as a constant reminder that our COVID safe measures must be continually maintained and updated to ensure we protect Western Australia,” stated Health Minister Roger Cook.

Woods agreed, stating that contact tracing was a preemptive strike to ensure the state keeps the virus under control.

“WA finds itself in a very fortunate position when it comes to our virtual eradication of COVID-19, however we must remain prepared so that in the event of a new case in our community, we do not send our state into a widespread lockdown.

“WA’s hospitality businesses are focused on ensuring that we do not go backwards in terms of the outstanding progress we have made throughout 2020 – today’s announcement is an important factor in keeping venues and patrons safe.”

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