Since its launch almost three weeks ago, more than 4 million Australians have downloaded the federal government’s digital contact tracing app, COVIDSafe. The premise of the app is simple: if someone you’ve been within close proximity to over the last two weeks is diagnosed as having COVID-19, you’ll be notified and encouraged to be tested. The government said that to be effective, 10 million Australians would need to download the app.

With salons preparing to re-open in the coming months, it’s understandable that salon owners may be feeling anxious about their and their staff’s exposure to the Coronavirus. With that in mind, many salon owners are likely to want their staff and customers to download the app prior to returning to work, and before attending any treatment bookings. But are they within their rights to demand it?

In a word, no. While salon owners are within their rights to encourage staff and clients to download the app, the Health Minister has made it clear – under the Biosecurity Act 2015 – that it is prohibited to demand that another person do so.

“The Biosecurity Determination prohibits employers  – and other persons – from requiring another person to download, or use COVIDSafe, on a mobile telecommunications device,” a representative for the Minister said. “This means that while an employer may encourage their employees to download or use COVIDSafe, they cannot direct employees – or any other person – to download or use COVIDSafe, either on a personal mobile device or on a mobile device provided by the employer for business use.”

In addition, the Minister highlights that it is also illegal to refuse entry to a premises, to refuse to receive goods or services, or refuse to provide services to someone based on their decision not to download the app.

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