At the press briefing on September 22, minister Victor Dominello, who is overseeing the development of the NSW vaccine passport, warned that the new technology may not be ready in time for the state reopening once 70 per cent of adults have been fully vaccinated. A two-week trial for the vaccine passport, which will be part of the Service NSW check-in app, will commence from October 6 until October 22. However, at current vaccination rates, NSW could reach the crucial 70 per cent double jabbed target as early as October 8, which would allow the state to reopen on October 11, according to the state’s ‘roadmap to freedom’.
Originally, the state government had planned to trial the app in certain areas of Greater Sydney that had the highest rates of vaccination, which would have allowed pubs in those areas to reopen within weeks. However, minister Dominello said that the decision had now been made to move the trial into regional NSW because reopening venues in Greater Sydney would be “a honey trap” and could tempt people living more than 5km from the participating pubs to go against public health orders to get their hands on a freshly pulled pint.
Minister Dominello said that until the app is ready, when the state reopens, NSW residents will need to use the vaccine certificate currently available via MyGov accounts to prove their vaccination status. However, since this document is very simple in appearance and has no digital security, it has been shown to be easy to forge. There have already been anecdotal reports that people deliberately dodging the jab plan to use false vaccine certificates to regain access to venues and businesses once lockdown rules begin to ease.
Minister Dominello said that using false or doctored immunisation documents is “a serious criminal offence,” adding that people found to be using forged documents “should face serious jail time.” However, there are currently no official guidelines on how business owners should deal with unvaccinated customers attempting to attend their venues. Premier Gladys Berejiklian said that business owners “should not worry”, as the vaccine passport checking-in process “will be the same as before we went into lockdown.”
The NSW government is awaiting access to immunisation records held by the federal government. Once this data is received, users will need to grant the state permission to access their record so it can be twinned with their Service NSW app. Minister Dominello said that the team developing the vaccine passport app were working with business owners and key stakeholders to make the process of entering a venue “as easy as possible.”