Australian State Vaccine Passport Not Ready as Reopening Day Looms

By Rebecca Zhu
Rebecca Zhu
Rebecca Zhu
October 8, 2021 Updated: October 8, 2021

Businesses in the state of New South Wales (NSW) are getting ready to reopen on Monday, while the state’s vaccine passport app remains “weeks” away.

Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello previously admitted that the feature would not be ready for stage one of reopening, as the NSW government has just begun trialling its digital vaccine passport feature in the NSW Service app.

“We’ll be doing pilots in the regions, and they’ll start next week. We’re already doing [internal] testing right now; in fact, I’m part of that testing,” Dominello told 2GB radio.

He said the government aimed to roll out the feature to the public by Oct. 18, making NSW the first Australian state to have it.

“We’ve got to get the privacy and security settings in place; we’re not going to take any shortcuts on that,” Dominello said. “And we only just got the data from the feds (federal government) about five or six days ago, so we’re moving at pace.”

Dominello previously said people could access their vaccination certification “right now” through the Medicare express app or call Service NSW or the Australian Immunisation Register for a hard copy if required.

Everyone will be required to show their vaccination status when entering venues until Dec. 1, when all restrictions will lift.

In September, the state’s former deputy premier John Barilaro warned businesses of “significant fines” if they serve unvaccinated customers.

But Dominello said that it would be up to the individual to comply with the public health orders and produce genuine documents.

“Businesses cannot be de-facto police officers in this; it’s not fair on them,” he said. “[So at the moment] when they see a document, whether it’s the Google, Apple, or Samsung wallet, or the Medicare certificate—it’s on faith.”

Dominello said businesses should not be confrontational and just call authorities if they suspect someone is producing a fake vaccine certificate.

The NSW government has tried to assure the public that the app would protect their privacy. However, with the new feature, users will be asked to give the app consent to access their immunisation records before it can display their vaccination status.

The state’s new conservative-leaning premier Dominic Perrottet has worked to speed up the reopening plan as significant levels of discontent towards lockdowns, and vaccine mandates prompted protests across the state and country.

Meanwhile, as Australia moves towards vaccine passports and reopens, Nordic nations Denmark and Norway have removed all COVID-19 restrictions, except external border requirements, after both countries decided to reclassify COVID-19 as no longer a critical threat to human life.

The downgrading of this classification means domestic vaccine passports are no longer necessary.

Rebecca Zhu