Recent news reports and communication from OLGR tell us many business operators continue to struggle with their requirements regarding the collection of contact information. It is fair to say that everyone, customers, staff and business owners, is inconvenienced by the requirements regarding collection and storage of information. But, if Queenslanders want to avoid going back to living under lockdown, fast and effective contact tracing when an infection has been discovered is of critical importance, which has been highlighted by the recent resurgence of COVID-19 in Victoria and NSW. Additionally, the penalty for non-compliance is an on the spot fine of up to $6,672.
To help business owners meet their obligations, we have answered some common questions below and provided some guidance on the various methods of collection available.
How can you record the information?
There is no prescribed method and you can record the information on paper or electronically. However, Queensland Health has provided the following examples of unsuitable methods:
- A notebook stored at the front counter that relies on patrons to voluntarily provide contact information without verification from staff
- A third-party mobile application where the business has little or no control over producing information within one hour
- A sheet of paper and pen that is permanently kept at a table and collected at the close of business each day
If you choose to use a third-party option some questions to ask are:
Can you verify the information collected?
If the details entered by the patron are not preserved on their device (some services simply show an icon on the screen when the form has been submitted) and you do not receive a real time update on the information collected, it will be difficult to do this.
Can you record the patron’s entry AND exit time?
If you have no access to the information provided, it will be impossible for you to record exit times.
If requested by Queensland Health, can you provide contact information for a specific period in a timely manner?
Some services require up to 24 hours to provide a report, but the expectation is that details will be provided to a public health officer within one hour.
Other considerations include the ongoing cost to you and the reliability of the provider – if they go out of business or become unreachable, you may lose the information.
Manual Collection – Pen and Paper
As noted above, patrons must be directed to provide the information and you must prevent any tampering with the records. To assist you, we have provided this simple template, which can be cut into five separate forms. By providing each visitor with a separate form you preserve their privacy and prevent anyone else from tampering with the information. Business owners and front of house staff must ensure every visitor to the premises receives, completes, and returns a form.
Other Electronic Methods
Depending on the nature of your business, you may wish to have staff collect details using a tablet or computer. Whilst this is labour intensive, if done correctly it eliminates many of the issues with other methods.
Alternatively, this article provides methods to collect information using free online tools where you retain control of the information – https://theconversation.com/giving-your-details-to-restaurants-and-cafes-your-rights-their-obligations-and-privacy-concerns-141286.
Whose information needs to be collected?
Contact information must be collected from all visitors to your business. which includes:
- Every person in a group of patrons
- All contractors
However, you do not need to collect contact details from people who visit the business to pick up takeaway food or drinks.
What information needs to be collected?
The following information must be collected:
- Mobile phone number
- Email address OR residential address – information from OLGR tells us an email address is preferred
- Period of visit/patronage – this requires you to record the date and arrival time, along with the departure time or approximate duration of the visit
Whilst it is appreciated that there are difficulties in recording the time someone leaves the premises, the feedback from OLGR and Police is that business operators must do their best to collect the information. In our view, ‘doing your best’ would include at least the following:
- Ensuring that whatever system you have in place provides patrons with the opportunity to indicate the intended duration of their stay, or the time they intend leaving or similar (We know that some venues have a second register available for patrons to simply indicate their name and the time as they leave.)
- Obvious signage stating that the law requires the venue to collect contact tracing information that includes the period of the visit
- Ensuring staff receive proper instructions in relation to this aspect
How long must you keep the information?
The information must be securely stored for 56 days and then deleted or destroyed.
Can you use the information for marketing?
Information collected must not be used for marketing or any other purpose.
This post was updated on 7 August 2020 to include the latest information from OLGR and Queensland Health.