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Calls for Queensland's COVID-19 check-in app to be scrapped as restrictions are eased for some businesses – ABC News

The ritual of queuing or fumbling with a phone to check in with the COVID-19 app is over for Queenslanders attending venues where vaccination proof is not mandatory.
Citing the state's success in riding out the Omicron variant infection wave, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk yesterday announced the use of the app would be scrapped across businesses ranging from taxis and rideshares to supermarkets and gyms.
However, its use will still be required in any businesses or location like pubs and clubs or aged care homes and hospitals where visitors must be fully vaccinated before entering.
Operators across the state welcomed the relaxation, although some called for the app to be scrapped in hospitality settings.
Leading epidemiologist Nancy Baxter said the move made sense as people were becoming less inclined to use the check-in apps.
Queensland Health's website yesterday carried a message saying more information would be available soon but in the daily press conference, Health Minister Yvette D'Ath listed many of the venues, ranging from retail to rideshares, where the app would no longer be necessary
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"It also means hairdressing, beauty therapy, gyms, many of those indoor play centres, real estate and auction houses, indoor sports centres all of those areas will no longer need and any part of government buildings or services where the public ordinarily have access, will not need to check in now,'' she said.
Ms D'Ath said businesses such as clubs and hotels would still be required to operate the check-in app to confirm vaccination status and allow the government to ensure compliance with mandatory vaccination rules.
She said the decision to wind back the app's use illustrated how Queensland had handled the pandemic better than other states.
"This is a great step and it shows the success and our analysis of the data of hospitalisation and ICU and even deaths has shown that we have managed this virus through the omicron wave better than our larger states across the east coast of Australia,'' she said.
"It really came down to the great work of Queenslanders following health advice and I want to thank everyone for doing that."
The move was enthusiastically welcomed by businesses with some owners and staff moving immediately to remove the app signs on their venues.
Some business owners said the move would save money, while others saw it as a return to normal trading.
"We are relieved that the slightly confusing state of the tracing is now being shelved,'' Daniel Gschwind, the chief executive of the Queensland Tourism and Industry Council, said.
It's now a legal requirement for venues to demand proof of vaccination before allowing you to enter. Here's how you can get the vaccination certificates of your close friends and family onto your phone to check in on their behalf.
"It didn't serve much purpose and we still have mandated vaccination requirements for all hospitality venues and that will probably stay in place."
Mr Gschwind said the industry could "live with" the continuing mandated vaccination requirements for hospitality venues.
"Some consumers still refuse and it will affect them but for the industry, we have really done what we could to follow the rules to support good health outcomes,'' he said.
"We are just relieved to be moving in the direction of opening everything up."
Taxi Council of Queensland chief executive Blair Davies said even though cab drivers were finding reasonable compliance with the check-in, there were undoubtedly some community members who did not want to use the QR code.
"So not having to do it [use the app] is not a bad thing,'' Mr Davies said.
Retail workers were also quick to back the change.
Kerry Constantine, who works at Michael Innis Menswear at West End in Brisbane, said the store had the check-in app, but that "no-one uses it anymore".
"We try and tell our customers if they can check in but it's a problem, so there's no use for it anymore anyway," she said.
"A lot of people when you do ask them to check in, some people do get a little bit upset, so we don't enforce it anymore."
On the restaurant strip in Brisbane's inner-city suburb of West End, Matt Newberry, chief executive officer of Catchment Brewing Co, questioned whether there was a need for the app to be in use if the contact tracing was not happening.
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"Restaurants are clearly regulated at the best of times, so it doesn't surprise me that the government is doing that,'' he said.
"We still use a check-in app to ensure people are vaccinated and until that mandate gets removed, we're going to continue to use it — it's the only way we can check that people are vaccinated.
Mr Newberry said the process costs more money than his business was in the position to spend in the current climate.
"We make sure they do [check-in] because we've got to be compliant or otherwise the police come and check and venues get fined if they're not compliant so we still use it every day," he said.
 "It's not useful, except to check vaccination codes — if there's no contract tracing then what is the point?
"It's just another level of compliance for our venues, another staff member required to check people in at the door."
Professor Baxter also questioned how much the apps were actually being used and said if there was little compliance, then there was little point.
"If we are at the point where people are not routinely using them, then it makes sense to only use them where they are most important – in high-risk settings,'' she said.
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