Hospitality venues and hairdressers not using the Service NSW app for customer check-ins will be whacked with fines and closures under harsh penalties being introduced on New Year’s Day.
The NSW government will make it mandatory for those businesses to use the Service NSW app in an effort to assist COVID-19 contact tracers.
Offending businesses will be fined $5000 and closed for a week, while repeat offenders could be closed for a month.
Currently, businesses in NSW can use several registration systems, but from January 1 that will start to change.
The government will consider expanding the mandate to other industries later in 2021.
The government last week reported that more than 42,000 businesses had used the Service NSW QR code at least once and that 1.8 million customers were already using the Service NSW app for COVID-safe check-ins.
Victor Dominello, Minister for Customer Service – the department responsible for the rollout of the app – said the state government would adopt a zero-tolerance policy.
“Only hospitality venues and hairdressing salons will be required to use the NSW government’s Service NSW QR code to record entry to their premises from January 1, 2021,” Mr Dominello told NCA NewsWire.
“Non-compliance is easy to detect and won’t be tolerated. There will be no ifs or buts. Penalties include $5000 on-the-spot fines, followed by a week’s closure and month’s closure if problems continue.
“The consequences of noncompliance and complacency when it comes to electronic record keeping are serious – it costs lives and destroys jobs.”
It comes after NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian and Health Minister Brad Hazzard on Monday urged businesses to download and implement the app to their COVID-safe plans, stressing the download would take “ three to four minutes”.
Mr Dominello said the government would enforce the app’s use.
“Government inspectors regularly visit venues to check compliance and enforce the rules,” he said. “The NSW government’s Service NSW QR code system is fast, free, accurate and private.
“The feedback we’ve received from contact tracers is that the Service NSW QR code is the most effective in assisting NSW Health to protect the community.
“It only takes minutes for customers to download the Service NSW app and seconds for businesses to check, which helps keep people safe and the economy open.”
Mr Dominello also moved to allay fears of customers’ private information being misused.
“Personal information obtained by businesses will be held securely by the government and only used by NSW Health in the event of an outbreak. It will be destroyed after 28 days,” he said.
Mr Hazzard last week voiced frustrations about reports people were “caught” using fake names and false phone numbers when visiting venues.
“This is a worldwide COVID pandemic. And thinking it’s smart to call yourself Donald Duck or Mickey Mouse is about as stupid as it gets. So that must cease,” he said.