People in Yagan Square in Perth's CBD (file image)
People can freely go wherever they want in WA without the need to show any digital identification. Image by Richard Wainwright/AAP PHOTOS

Old news rehashed in spurious WA digital ID claim

Kat Wong December 21, 2022
WHAT WAS CLAIMED

No one can enter a restaurant, pub or club in Western Australia without a digital ID from January 31.

OUR VERDICT

False.  A digital ID is not required - and will not be required from January 31 - to enter venues.

Various social media posts claim the Western Australia government will deny people entry to restaurants, pubs and clubs if they do not have digital identification by the end of January.

The claim is false. The post misinterprets a news article from January 2022 about the ServiceWA app.

The app was launched in January this year to help check residents’ COVID vaccination statuses at various venues.

Experts and the WA premier’s office told AAP FactCheck the app was never mandatory and had dropped in use after proof of vaccination rules were scrapped in April.

Regardless, the rules were never about digital identification with West Australians able to show their immunisation record by presenting a paper certificate.

Various posts (examples here, here, here, here, here, here, here and archived here) are screenshots of another Facebook user’s post which have appeared across social media platforms in recent weeks.

A screenshot of the Facebook post.
 There is no truth to the Facebook post’s claim people will need a digital ID to enter venues in WA. 

The original post appears to have been deleted.

The text reads: “No restaurant, pub, club entries in WA without a digital ID by January 31. The dry run over the last two years in over, and the nightmare of a social credit system is about to get real. Time is almost up, Australia. The head in the sand thingy is just about over.”

The original post linked to an article from January 13, 2022, on a website which shares global news about biometrics. It accurately explained the ServiceWA app would allow users to show proof of their vaccination status, check-in at businesses, and access their interstate travel documents in one place.

Not only are the various posts false in suggesting the changes will come in on January 31 2023, they are also wrong in regards to the claimed rules and restrictions.

Someone scanning into a Perth pub in May 2022 (file image)
 A person scanning into a Perth pub using the SafeWA app in May 2021 during the COVID pandemic. 

Dr Nachshon Goltz, a law expert from Edith Cowan University, told AAP FactCheck in a phone interview the rules imposed in January 2022 were about barring unvaccinated people from venues to help combat Omicron as COVID-19 infection numbers were rising in WA.

From January 31 until April 29, 2022, the WA government required everyone to show proof of double vaccination at a range of venues.

Though vaccination status was commonly shown through the ServiceWA app’s digital vaccine certificate, the app itself was not mandatory. West Australians could also show their immunisation record by presenting a paper certificate.

The app fell out of use when WA dropped its proof of vaccination requirement for businesses four months later. People are still required to show their immunisation record to enter WA hospitals and aged care facilities.

A representative from WA Premier Mark McGowan’s office told AAP FactCheck in an email that “ServiceWA is now just an app to connect Western Australians with government services”, such as bushfire warning systems and COVID safety advice.

A man drinks a beer (file image)
 No one in WA needs a digital ID to enjoy a cold beverage at a restaurant, pub or club over summer. 

The WA government ended the public health state of emergency in November, which means it cannot force people to disclose personal information while visiting venues.

Anna Bunn, a senior lecturer from Curtin Law School, told AAP FactCheck “these powers were dependent on there being a state of emergency in relation to COVID-19”.

“The only other way in which mandatory collection of personal information could be required is by operation of law, but there are no laws in place that require people to provide personal information when visiting venues,” Dr Bunn said in an email.

Dr Bunn also said the WA government could not force people to download an app, even in a state of emergency.

“It could never be compulsory … that would require people to possess devices that allow for this,” she said.

The Verdict

The claim people in Western Australia cannot visit pubs, restaurants and clubs without a digital ID from January 31 is false.

The claim refers to the launch of the ServiceWA app in January this year. It was provided as a way for people to show their vaccination status as was temporarily required on entry to various venues. 

However, there was no requirement to have the app or any digital ID with people able to show their status with a paper certificate. 

False – The claim is inaccurate.

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