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SA flags easing Vic border rules, big fines for QR data breaches

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South Australia will open its border to regional Victoria tomorrow if the eastern state lifts its five-day lockdown and has scheduled a full opening to greater Melbourne for February 25, while introducing big fines for businesses which misuse personal data written on sign-in forms.

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Victoria today entered day four of its five-day lockdown and recorded two new local cases of COVID-19 – both household contacts of previous cases linked to the Holiday Inn hotel outbreak.

There are now 19 cases associated with the quarantine hotel near Melbourne Airport and 25 active cases across the state, although Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews told reporters today the state is “well placed” to end its lockdown tomorrow.

SA Police Commissioner Grant Stevens told reporters this morning that the state’s transition committee agreed to lift restrictions on regional Victoria pending tomorrow’s decision on Victoria’s lockdown.

“Based on the information we’ve received, the transition committee have agreed that on the event that Victoria lift their lockdown on Wednesday, that we will be reverting to a situation where regional Victoria will no longer be restricted from entering South Australia,” Stevens said.

“There’ll be no requirements on Victorian residents from regional Victoria coming into South Australia.”

Travellers from greater Melbourne, who are currently barred from entering SA, will be allowed into the state from February 25 if Victoria reaches a 14-day threshold of no community transmission from February 11.

Stevens said February 25 was the “earliest date we could change our restrictions”, due to advice from SA Health that the last case of community transmission in Victoria was on February 11.

If the border to greater Melbourne were to open on February 25, travellers would still need to submit to a PCR test on day one, five and 12 of their stay.

Transition committee will meet later in the week to assess the situation in Victoria further.

Border restrictions for people travelling to South Australia via Melbourne Airport eased slightly overnight, providing the travellers have come from a low community transmission zone.

People who transition from a low community transmission zone, through the Melbourne Airport, having been in that zone for 14 days and having been in the airport for two hours or less may enter South Australia without quarantining or testing.

People travelling via an airport are still required to wear a mask while on the flight and in the airport.

SA Police published the changes late last night, which come into effect from today and also include the removal of the requirement for essential travellers classified as cross border community members to submit to COVID-19 testing when travelling between SA and Victoria

New QR code punishments

Stevens also announced new punishments for violations of QR code data privacy, with individuals facing $1000 fines and businesses facing $5,000 fines if they illegally access confidential data.

Online QR code data, used exclusively for contact tracing purposes, is stored centrally, but the new measures are designed to protect contact tracing information written on paper sign-in sheets.

“We are now making it an offence under the Emergency Management Act for any person who misuses contact tracing information collected at retail outlets or any other venue in South Australia,” Stevens said.

“Obviously the QR code data which is stored centrally in an encrypted format within the state government is highly protected.

“But we do have individual paper sheets being retained by individual businesses for those people who don’t have access to smartphone technology.”

Stevens said that although police have not been notified of any specific incidents of paper information being accessed unlawfully, the new measures would prevent a possible breach from happening in future.

“There was a bill before Parliament looking to provide an offence framework for people who misuse that,” he said.

“We saw that in the interim period between now when that bill goes through, we can change the emergency management direction to compensate for that.

“We’re not dealing with a specific issue that needs to be fixed, but we are preventing a possible breach of confidentiality.”

Stevens said there has been a “reasonably high level of compliance” with the QR code system, but added that there have been “plenty of occasions where we see people walking straight through the door without checking in”.

“We’re just reminding people to do the right thing,” he said.

SA recorded no new COIVID-19 cases today, from a total of 4932 tests.

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