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Collecting contact information for COVID-19

Updated on 24 July 2020

A range of businesses are required to collect contact information from staff and patrons for the purpose of contact tracing. Information collected will assist the local public health unit to contact trace in the event a person attended one of these businesses while they were infectious with COVID-19.

Information for businesses

What contact information is a business required to collect?

A person who owns, controls or operates a restricted business, activity or undertaking (for example, a restaurant or bar) must keep contact information about all guests and staff for contact tracing purposes for a period of 56 days. This is not required for takeaway or home delivery.

For each patron, this information must include:

  • Full name
  • Phone number
  • Email address (residential address if unavailable)
  • Date and time period of patronage

To capture the time period, businesses must keep a person’s ‘in-time’ and either the person’s ‘out-time’, have policies that restrict time periods (for example, a two-hour table limit) or inform the person they are more likely to be contacted by authorities in the event of contact tracing if an ‘out-time’ is not provided.

Why is collecting contact information important?

When a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, the local public health unit commences contact tracing. Public health officers will assess the movements of the person with COVID-19 while they were infectious and determine who in community are considered ‘close contacts’. Close contacts will be directed to quarantine and may also be tested for COVID-19. Information kept about guests and staff will assist in identifying and contacting the relevant close contacts. This will assist public health officers to  contain and respond to the spread of COVID-19 within the community

How should a business collect and store contact information?

There is no single method for collecting and storing contact tracing information, this is a decision for the individual business. High quality, accurate and well-organised contact information will assist public health officers to contain and respond to the spread of COVID-19 within the community.

Poor practices associated with the collection, storage and production of contact information will likely hamper contact tracing and may result in a breach of the public health direction. Haste, carelessness or inappropriate collection methods may also result in threats to personal information.

Requirements for keeping suitable contact information:

  • Advise patrons it is a condition of entry to leave their contact information.
  • Have a clear and consistent method for keeping, storing, producing and destroying contact information. Ensure this method is discussed with all staff.
  • Contact information is required from each patron, not a single patron within a group.
  • Review details provided by patrons to ensure there are no missing fields or clearly false or misleading information.
  • Contact information must be stored such that it cannot be reviewed or tampered with by other patrons (e.g. a running list kept permanently on a dining table is not suitable).
  • Contact information must be stored in a manner that facilitates efficient retrieval for a specified date and/or time (e.g. batched per day).

Examples of unsuitable methods of keeping contact information:

  • 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 permanently kept at a table and is collected at the close of business each day.

Can a business use a mobile application or QR code to collect contact information?

When choosing to use a mobile application or QR code to collect contact information, the requirements to keep, store and produce contact information (within one hour) must not be jeopardised or at a lesser standard.

If only a single patron within a group downloads the mobile application or uses the QR code, it must contain the contact information of all patrons within that group. Staff must be able to readily review contact information submitted via the mobile application or QR code.

When will contact information be required?

Public health officers will contact the business owner or operator if a person diagnosed with COVID-19 states they attended the business at a time when they were considered infectious. This may be in person or via telephone. Public health officers will require the information of each guest and staff for a specific date and time period. Public health officers will not provide details of the person diagnosed with COVID-19.

It is critical that contact tracing is conducted in a timely manner to limit the spread of COVID-19. While each business may have different methods for collecting and storing information, there is an expectation that details of relevant staff and guests will be produced immediately to a public health officer when required (within one hour).  Should a business be unable to immediately produce this information when required, it may result in a breach of the Chief Health Officer’s public health direction.

How can a business adhere to privacy laws?

Businesses are required to collect and store information in a way which complies with the Australian Privacy Principles. Contact information is to be used only for the purposes of contact tracing COVID-19. Contact information must be securely stored such that it cannot be tampered with. Contact information must not be sold, used for marketing or research or transferred overseas. The information must be deleted after 56 days, unless otherwise specified.

Are there penalties for businesses who don’t comply?

Failure to collect and/or produce contact tracing information, without a reasonable excuse, may result in a fine of $1,334 for individuals and $6,672 for corporations.

Information for patrons

What contact information do I need to provide?

For each patron, you must provide:

  • Full name
  • Phone number
  • Email address (residential address if unavailable)
  • Date and time period of patronage

In the hospitality setting, this only applies to dining in – you do not need to provide contact details for takeaway or home delivery.

Your details will be kept for 56 days to assist with contact tracing, if required, and a business may turn you away if you do not provide your contact details.

Why is providing contact information important?

When a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, the local public health unit commences contact tracing. Public health officers will assess the movements of the person with COVID-19 while they were infectious and determine who in community are considered ‘close contacts’.

That’s why it’s important to provide accurate and legible contact information, so we can contact you if you are affected, helping us respond quickly and effectively to the spread of COVID-19 in the community, and to minimize potential for you to spread the disease to others.

How will my privacy be protected?

Businesses are required to collect and store information in a way which complies with the Australian Privacy Principles. Contact information is to be used only for the purposes of contact tracing COVID-19. Contact information must be securely stored such that it cannot be tampered with. Contact information must not be sold, used for marketing or research or transferred overseas. The information must be deleted after 56 days, unless otherwise specified.

If you’re concerned about a business not collecting or storing information appropriately, we recommend having a chat to the staff and find out what measures they have put in place. If you think a business has broken any rules, you can report them to PoliceLink or call 134 COVID – the Queensland Government’s COVID-19 hotline.

Please contact Policelink at https://forms.police.qld.gov.au/launch/SuspiciousActivity or by calling 131 444.

Last updated: 13 July 2020