Can you force customers and staff to download the COVIDSafe App?

With the ability to “trace” COVID-19 transmission that is offered by the COVIDSafe app, some businesses are going so far as to call for a policy of ‘No COVIDSafe, No Entry’ when they re-open to the public.

For example, Brian (not his real name) owns a nightclub in the CBD. When his venue is allowed to trade again, he wants to include a new process where:

    1. bouncers ask to see patrons’ COVIDSafe apps on their phones as a condition of entry; and
    2. managers ask to see employees’ COVIDSafe apps before they start shifts.

This does seem totally well-intentioned. At the heart of it, everyone wants to make sure the community is doing the right thing and kept safe.

But to be totally, absolutely, one-hundred-percent clear – you cannot require people to download the COVIDSafe App.

It’s against the law
The Morrison government has clarified that people must choose to download the app, and under new legislation, a person will be committing an offence if they require someone to download the app for any reason.

 

Here are some other things you must not do under the new legislation:

 

  • require someone to have the app open on their screens before they enter your premises or begin a shift;

 

  • require someone to prove that they have downloaded the app;

 

  • refuse to enter into a contract with someone because they do not have the app;

 

  • refuse to receive or provide goods or services from a person who does not have the app; or

 

  • refuse to allow a person to participate in an activity because they don’t have the app.

 

Doing any of the above can result in significant penalties, including prison sentences of up to 5 years and fines of up to $63,000.

 

What can you do?
Even though you can’t require anyone to download or open COVIDSafe, you can always encourage its use.

 

Keep in mind the following points when recommending the app:
1. Don’t recommend too hard, or pressure people to download the app. Some people have strongly-held concerns about their data and privacy – and consent is key to COVIDSafe.
2. Use language which is consistent with government COVIDSafe resources. The best place to find this information is on the Health Department’s COVIDSafe webpage.

 

So let’s go back to the example of Brian, the nightclub owner.

 

Though he cannot legally require COVIDSafe to be downloaded as a condition to entry, he could put up posters outside the club and in the breakroom encouraging patrons and staff to download COVIDSafe.

 

His posters could stress that, whilst adopting COVIDSafe could be a helpful step in containing the spread of coronavirus, downloading the app is complete voluntary.

 

How we can help
Legalite is always on hand to help with preparing compliant coronavirus related policies, including materials, collateral and communications around COVIDSafe.

 

If you have any questions or would like to discuss further, you can book into a free 15 minute consultation [here].