7 February 2022

Check-in requirements changed to focus on higher risk settings, automation underway

| Lottie Twyford
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Rachel Stephen-Smith

Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith said the changes to the app reflect the changing context of the pandemic. Photo: Region Media.

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
  • nightclubs
  • 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.

READ ALSO Protesters should not take capital’s tolerance and hospitality for granted

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.

Check In CBR sign

It won’t be necessary to use Check In CBR in retail venues from Friday night, although businesses are encouraged to leave QR codes up so customers can use them voluntarily. Photo: Region Media.

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.”

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Slartibartfast is a great name too.

I don’t think anyone really cares about our pathetic little lives. The desperate trips to Bunnings to find material that is not available, shopping the shelves of Coles for the allusive chicken thighs, wandering aimlessly around the Canberra Centre killing time. Bigger issues in life than the the conspiracy theories that government actually care about us. We only exist around election time and the rest of the time we can please ourselves. For an example of how misbehaved we can be you merely have to watch the naughty protesters making a pest of themselves in Canberra. Not that I am interested in their mental issues, I have better things to do.

We all should be BARRcoded. ?

Frank Spencer9:39 pm 07 Feb 22

Who cares about this….Lottie Twyford is an awesome name

HiddenDragon6:20 pm 07 Feb 22

This will make it that much easier for the CCP hackers and analysts to focus on the really juicy data (particularly the fourth dot point above), instead of wasting their time with the useless stuff about Shirley and Ray doing the weekly grocery shop and Bec and Liam getting the morning acai bowl.

Why would the CCP care about who is frequenting knock shops? I’m sure if there were people they were interested in who were frequenting such establishments that they would already be watching them anyway.

ChrisinTurner1:22 pm 07 Feb 22

Not clear yet about check in at churches.

Yes, no mention of places of worship.

Maybe they fall under “organised events that are not ticketed”?
Before the Check-In App, when numbers were specifically based on a number per square metre, my church used a “ticketing” system, so they could record the contact details of attendees. Maybe they’ll go back to “ticketing”?

The Government needs to provide more clarity on this issue.

Interestingly, in the article there is a photo of the Minister using the Check-In App on a bus. Buses are not included on the list either.
The Government might say that MyWay card holders details are already recorded. Well, yes, but only if the card is registered. Also those people who used to pay cash, who now ride for free, if they don’t Check-in, there is no record they were there.

Whether I need to it not, if there is the option, I’ll Check-in. I think when there are some places you need to and some you don’t, people will get out of the habit.

Is it really that big an imposition?

Excellent .. now hows about masks ?
When would it be likely they can be knocked on the head as
well ?

If wearing a mask prevents just one person from losing their life or that of a loved one, I’m prepared to wear one.

Do you have any loved ones?

Why? The app didn’t accomplish what it was intended to do, and made lives more difficult for contact tracers. The app should be scraped and someone in the ACT government should see jail time for taking away rights and making life more difficult for no benefit. all done without grace or humility.

https://theconversation.com/the-covidsafe-app-was-designed-to-help-contact-tracers-we-crunched-the-numbers-to-see-what-really-happened-172242

The Silver,
I think you’re mistaking the Federally developed Covidsafe app with the local CBR checkin app which is what this story is about.

The local QR checkin app clearly did its job but has become less useful recently with higher case loads and lower compliance making proper contact tracing untenable without employing a significantly greater amount of staff.

It’s a sensible move to now scale back its use to only higher risk settings.

Whether you or I believe there were privacy issues is a separate matter to its effectiveness for contact tracing.

I’m not mistaking them, there are no public ACT numbers, but I doubt the ACT is significantly different from NSW on this front.

The Federal app had built in protections against privacy invasion and record keeping enshrined into law.
The ACT app didn’t give 2 hoots about the right to privacy and likely they still have the data as someone lawfully requested it at some point.

Federal app wasn’t used and wasn’t effective as contract tracing was state based.
ACT app – no one knows how it went,, as the ACT gov demanded to know everywhere we went, we weren’t allowed to know how useful that data was to them.

I thought it humorous that the privacy policy linked in the Canberra app said all information was provided voluntary.

The Silver,
You’ve linked to an article about the federal Covidsafe app which used Bluetooth signalling between phones to allow contact tracing. It mainly didn’t work because of the design of the app, rather than the value of the data it could have generated if it was more effective.

This article is about the Check in CBR app which uses QR codes to match when Covid cases were at venues, allowing far easier contact tracing at locations to occur.

So it’s not comparable to the article you’ve linked in the slightest and I don’t know how you are trying to compare them.

You can argue it was a breach of privacy, you can argue that the quarantine requirements that they used the data for were heavy handed, you could argue it was a waste of money and resources (or wasn’t efficient) but you can’t argue it doesn’t work. It’s simply movement and location data.

Unless you’re saying there was widescale non-compliance of the checkin system or quarantine, lowering the overall value of contact tracing altogether?

I heard the question asked to either the Chief Medical Officer or the Health Minister sometime last year, (can’t now remember which one), asking how useful the ap was. Very useful, was the reply.

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