It wasn’t until Rachelle Connor left Victoria and returned that she started to become worried about how QR codes were used in her home state.
At the first restaurant they visited after arriving in Western Australia, Ms Connor and her family were asked to download the SafeWA app before scanning into the venue.
“That’s how diligent they are,” she said.
It was one of the first times she had been told she would not be allowed into a venue without showing proof of her checking in.
“It’s just everywhere, people are doing it and people are complying,” she said.
“And it just struck us that after being in Victoria, where we’ve had so many cases, to go to a state that has had barely any cases, and everyone is still scanning to go into any sort of shop or any outlet was just extraordinary.”
Ms Connor, a council worker, said she had written to businesses since returning home “and I was told that it’s not mandatory in Victoria”.
Most venues, including hospitality, sport facilities, gyms, religious sites, community venues, entertainment venues, real estate inspections, museums, nightclubs, gaming, accommodation and beauty services, are all required to use a QR code system.
Supermarkets, retail and shopping centres are “highly recommended” to use the service.
The results of a recent survey released by the government found only 41 per cent of visitors to hospitality venues checked in every time.
Authorised officers visited a range of venues between April 30 and May 2 and issued warnings or notices about a lack of compliance with the system.
Health Minister Martin Foley said there had been “declining levels of compliance with the kind of measures we need to stay safe and stay open”.
The use of QR codes for contact tracing is in the spotlight after New South Wales authorities praised a couple at the centre of the outbreak for using the state’s system.
Nancy Baxter, head of the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health at the University of Melbourne, said the QR codes were “really helpful” if everyone was using them.
The data collected through the QR codes can work faster than the “deep detective work” of contact tracers, meaning potentially infected people isolate sooner.
But Professor Baxter said their usefulness depended on their uptake.
“Even myself, I try to be vigilant about it, but just recently, I couldn’t seem to get the system to work. Did I persist? No, honestly … and I don’t think I’m unique,” she said.
The government has today announced small-to-medium-sized businesses will have patron caps lifted from May 28.
Venues that are 400 square metres or below will be able to have up to 200 patrons per space — such as a dining room or band room — with the previous rule of one person per 2 square metres removed.
They must use the government’s Service Victoria app and have COVID marshals in place to ensure people are checking in to each space.
Mr Foley said the move to the single system was made on public health advice and after looking around the rest of the nation.
After allowing venues to use their own check-in system for months, Victoria recently mandated the use of the Service Victoria app, or for third-party systems to link back to the government’s interface.
Venues were given an amnesty until April 23 to comply.
There had been some pushback over fears small businesses would be forced to bear the cost of the move to a single program.
The new rules announced today mean all venues must use the government’s app instead, despite many going through the process of having their systems approved over recent weeks.
“Business welcomes the announcement of the easing of restrictions today,” chief executive of the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Paul Guerra said.
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