Checking-in in the ACT will only be mandatory in high-risk settings such as bars, pubs and nightclubs from the end of this week, with in-app exposure notifications soon to be made automatic.
Other businesses and settings will still be encouraged to display their QR codes so customers can use them voluntarily.
From 11:59 pm on Friday, 11 February 2022, the use of Check In CBR will be required at:
- licensed bars and pubs
- registered clubs
- strip clubs and brothels
- organised events that are not ticketed or pre-registered, including conferences, markets, music and cultural events, and
- schools and early childhood education and care centres.
Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith said the changes to the check-in rules have been made in the context of an evolving COVID-19 outbreak response and changes to contact tracing.
Last week she rejected what she described as “astonishing” calls from the Opposition to scrap the app entirely as it was no longer used for contact tracing purposes.
In early January, ACT Health stopped publishing COVID-19 exposure locations on their website amid skyrocketing daily case numbers as the Omicron wave swept across the Territory. At the same time, the onus was placed on people who tested positive to notify their ‘close’ or ‘high-risk’ contacts of potential exposure.
But Ms Stephen-Smith argued the app would continue to serve as a helpful tool in the future as the ACT readied itself for successive waves of the pandemic, or “peaks and troughs”, as Chief Minister Andrew Barr said last week.
“It’s almost like Elizabeth Lee is about to come out and say the pandemic is over – you know, Coe 2.0, but it’s not,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.
Last week, opposition spokesperson for health Leanne Castley said that the app had become a significant compliance burden for businesses.
But, with fewer businesses captured under the app’s new scope, authorities hope businesses, venues and customers will appreciate eased requirements.
“These changes mean we’re still able to monitor places where our public health team considers there is a higher risk of COVID-19 transmission,” Ms Stephen-Smith explained.
The app is also being updated so users will be automatically notified if they have been at a high-risk setting at the same time as a positive COVID-19 case.
It’s unclear whether this will mean a ‘check-out’ requirement will have to be added to the app’s functionality to enable this kind of automatic notification.
“While this technical work is still underway, we expect to have this feature ready in the next couple of weeks,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.
“ACT Health continues to work on improvements to Check In CBR in response to community feedback and to prepare for potential future contact tracing needs.”