NSW is forging ahead with vaccine passports. Here’s what we know so far

The Service NSW app will become a kind of vaccine passport.

The Service NSW app will become a kind of vaccine passport. Photo: Getty

New South Wales is prepping digital vaccine passports in time for the state to partially open up once 70 per cent double-dose vaccine coverage is achieved.

Existing vaccine certificates will be linked to the Service NSW app, and this setup will be piloted in rural NSW in early October, before the wider reopening expected later that month.

“What we will be doing is integrating that, and providing people with the option of then having [their immunisation status] in their Service NSW app to make it really easy when they’re checking into venues,” NSW Digital Minister Victor Dominello said at Wednesday’s COVID update.

“That way you don’t have to open up several different apps just to get into a venue.

“You open up one app – the Service NSW app – and on that app, it’ll enable you to check in, and at the same time, on that same screen, it’ll show your vaccination status.”

Trials to start soon

The state government will start a two-week pilot in a handful of regional towns on October 6.

Mr Dominello said the invitation-only trial will involve between 100 and 500 people, though the exact locations have yet to be chosen.

“We decided against Sydney because we don’t want to create a honeypot effect,” Mr Dominello told reporters.

“Because if you create one location in Sydney, then everyone will be drawn to it, whereas in the regions, they’re already quasi-opened up anyway.”

Security and breaches

The vaccine passport update came after The Daily Telegraph reported that NSW Police is investigating a fake check-in app that tradies have allegedly been using to enter construction sites.

Circumventing the official system could allow a COVID-positive tradie to avoid detection and carry on working.

“Service NSW and Cyber Security NSW monitor the web for suspect and fraudulent sites such as the one referenced in the inquiry,” a Service NSW spokesperson told The New Daily.

“The Department of Customer Service was made aware of the website late last week and notified NSW Police.”

Providing fraudulent check-in information is a breach of the public health order, and the police investigation remains ongoing.

Mr Dominello said the Service NSW vaccine passports will include QR-code validation to prevent incidents such as this, but the exact implementation is still being worked out.

As for everyone else …

People without smartphones are already able to contact the Australian Immunisation Register to receive a printed version of their vaccine certificate. They also need to check in to venues manually.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian said that people who aren’t fully vaccinated will not be able to enjoy new freedoms, even once 80 per cent of the population has received both doses.

“There will be another date after that by which the unvaccinated people will be able to participate in events or activities,” she said.

As NSW prepares to live with COVID-19, it remains unclear exactly where unvaccinated people without medical exemptions will fit into the state’s roadmap out of lockdown.

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