12 May 2022

Public health emergency extended for three months as Check In CBR scrapped

| Lottie Twyford
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Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith

The Territory’s Health Minister Rachel Stephen-Smith has extended the Public Health Emergency Declaration by 90 days. Photo: Thomas Lucraft.

The ACT’s Public Health Emergency Declaration has been extended by 90 days, although the use of Check In CBR will no longer be mandatory from 11:59 pm this Friday (13 May).

Instead, the app will be reborn as a health screening tool for use in settings like hospitals.

A public health emergency was first declared on 16 March 2020 and was initially in force for a period of only five days. It hasn’t been lifted since.

With this extension, its powers will end in August, although it will be reviewed every 30 days.

At the same time, ACT Government is working on new laws so it can step down from a pandemic ’emergency’ to pandemic ‘management’. Those COVID-specific laws were set to be debated earlier this year but will now go before the ACT Assembly in June.

They have been touted as providing greater human rights protections and better oversight than what’s allowed for under the emergency legislation.

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Minister for Health Rachel Stephen-Smith said the extension of the emergency would mean the Chief Health Officer could continue to take necessary public health actions over winter and as COVID-19 transmission remained high.

Around 1000 COVID-19 cases are reported every day in the ACT.

“We anticipate that the upcoming winter will bring additional challenges as people spend more time indoors and the health care system deals with both COVID and influenza in the community.

“It is therefore vital the government has the ability to respond quickly should this be required over the coming months – for example, if a new variant presents an additional risk,” she said.

Check In CBR poster

Check In CBR was made mandatory in some settings in March last year and expanded further in July. Photo: Region Media.

Relaxed rules, which come into effect on Friday after 11:59 pm, mean checking in will largely become a thing of the past.

Since February, it’s only been mandatory to check into settings such as pubs, clubs, nightclubs, strip clubs, brothels and non-ticketed events.

But that won’t be necessary any longer, and users of the app will also stop receiving automatic exposure notifications.

For the most part, contact tracing of positive COVID-19 cases ground to a halt in late December 2021/early January 2022 when cases increased significantly with the arrival of the Omicron variant.

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The app won’t become completely obsolete as it’s been upgraded to include a new health screening tool for voluntary use by high-risk facilities and a direct link to the online form to record positive RAT results.

“The health screening tool will allow high-risk facilities such as hospitals, residential aged care facilities, disability services and correctional facilities that often have separate screening and check-in methods to use one tool to screen and automatically check-in visitors,” Ms Stephen-Smith said.

The new tool won’t be available until 20 May, and any organisation planning to use it will have to apply for a new QR code.

Canberrans are encouraged to keep the Check In CBR app downloaded on their phones.

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There’s been the possibility of a new variant for the last 10,000 years.

Overstep and overreach.

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.

Every single member of the Legislative Assembly should be in the Alexander Maconochie Centre. And throw away the key.

CaptainSpiff9:45 pm 12 May 22

ACT govt believes we must remain in a state of emergency, because an emergency could arise?

Makes about as much sense as the rest of their Covid policies.

How about stop feeding the media with daily case number stats, and stick to the numbers that matter – hospitalization and ICU cases.

Those are around 70 and 5 at the moment. Some emergency.

Michael Weber8:19 pm 12 May 22

Great article, insightful!

Michael Weber8:18 pm 12 May 22

Great article

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