Older Queenslanders have welcomed the streamlining of COVID-19 contact tracing efforts as the state’s Check In Qld app becomes officially mandatory in hospitality businesses.
- More than 31,100 businesses have registered for the app, which has been downloaded some 2.42 million times
- Authorities warn failure to comply could result in up to six months in prison
- Hospitality venues hope the app being made mandatory will mean crowd limits can be eased
From today, any cafe, restaurant or pub could face penalties of up to six months in prison if they aren’t using the state government’s Check In Qld smartphone app to register patrons upon arrival.
The app was launched in February after contract tracers struggled to read paper sign-ins and patrons were made to check in across multiple systems, prompting Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk to last month announce the app would be made mandatory.
Check In Queensland only requires patrons to enter their details once and then to scan QR codes at registered venues.
The state government said the app had been downloaded more than 2.42 million times, while more than 32,000 businesses had now registered.
Minister for Digital Economy Leanne Enoch said the information provided by the app provided the government with “the best possible chance to be able to move as quickly as possible”.
“The … app is yet another tool in our ability to continue to open up our economy … and [to] support Queensland getting back to normal,” she said.
“Many businesses … utilised different [check-in] methods and it became very clear, very quickly … [with calls] not just from businesses, but from [patrons] to have a unified app.
“The … app will absolutely … assist in ensuring we have shorter, sharper lockdowns.”
Council on the Aging (COTA) Queensland spokesman Mark Tucker-Evans said it had been widely embraced by most elderly Queenslanders.
“There’s actually a consistent way for people to register.”
Alternatives needed for those without smartphones
In a statement, Queensland Health said people who do not have the app could be signed in under the business’s own profile by venue staff.
“If patrons do not have access to the Check In Qld app, businesses must use the business profile mode of the Check In Qld app to check them in,” the statement said.
Otherwise, customers could be added as a guest on an accompanying person’s check in.
Queensland Health also said under “temporary circumstances” such as internet issues, businesses could use an alternative method to collect details but would have 24 hours to transfer it to an electronic system.
“If businesses don’t comply with the direction, there’s a penalty of up to 100 penalty units or up to six months’ imprisonment,” it said.
Mr Tucker-Evans said while many older Queenslanders were tech savvy and can use the app, there needed to be alternatives for people without a smartphone.
“It’s not just older people who have challenges with constantly updating new technology,” Mr Tucker-Evans said.
“It’s about, how do we ensure that everybody, no matter what the circumstances … can actually participate in everyday life.”
Brisbane woman Diane Burmeister, 72, downloaded the app when it launched, describing it as a “brilliant tracking system”.
“As soon as it was available, I was using it – it works so well,” she said.
Diane Burmeister has welcomed the app but says some of her elderly friends are “intimidated” by technology. (ABC News: Lia Walsh)
“When it first came out … [Ms Burmeister’s friends] weren’t using it. [Now] they’ve all gotten to know it.”
Ms Burmerster said some of her friends do not have smartphones, while others were “intimidated” by the technology.
Hopes of eased COVID capacity limits
Chamber of Commerce and Industry Queensland (CCIQ) general manager Amanda Rohan said the state government should have more confidence in contact tracing now the app was mandatory.
“We can give the government confidence through their app that contact tracing is happening,” Ms Rohan said.
She said the easing of capacity limits and social distancing restrictions would be “welcomed by the [hospitality] sector”.
“If it is mandatory and if it gives the … contact tracers confidence that they can adequately and efficiently contact trace, then the flip-side of that could be further easing of restrictions,” Ms Rohan said.
Queensland Hotels Association (QHA) spokesman Bernie Hogan told ABC Radio Brisbane that he was anticipating restrictions would be reviewed.