Pedestrians walk in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, August 30 | Photo: EFE / EPA / RUSSELL FREEMAN

The government of South Australia, one of six Australian states, is testing a mobile app that will be used to monitor whether travelers arriving in the country comply with the mandatory home quarantine imposed due to the Covid-19 pandemic . They will have to respond to messages confirming their location via the app during the mandatory 14-day isolation period.

Testing began last week in the state of South Australia. The aim is to extend testing to international travelers “in the coming weeks,” said Prime Minister Steven Marshall.

Initially, residents of South Australia returning from the Australian states of New South Wales and Victoria are part of the test, according to local news network ABC News. These people will need to install the app on their cell phone or other device to prove that they are at home for the required period.

Residents who wish to return to the state of South Australia and be quarantined at home will need to prove to local health authorities that they have a place to self-isolate during the mandatory quarantine period and prove that they are are perfectly immune to Covid-19.

They will then need to download the quarantine app, which uses geolocation and facial recognition programs. The app will send a message at random times to these people, who will have 15 minutes to send their location, to prove they are home.

If the person does not prove their whereabouts and identity upon request, the health authorities will notify the police, who will personally carry out the verification.

The state prime minister told ABC News that personal data will not be stored by the app. “We’re just using it to make sure people are where they said they would be during their home quarantine.”

Steven Marshall justified the move by saying that it will no longer be possible to continue using hotels intended to quarantine international travelers once the borders reopen. He also argued that the app will reduce the need for law enforcement officers to personally visit the scene to check that people are complying with the rules.

“In the past when we had this option [de cumprir a quarentena em casa] for people arriving from other states and other countries, at the beginning [da pandemia], a very strong police presence was necessary to carry out checks on the spot, ”said Marshall.

Australia travel restrictions

Australia has placed strict restrictions on travel abroad and between its states and territories in a bid to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

“Australia’s borders are closed. The only people who can travel to Australia are: Australian citizens, permanent residents, immediate family members, travelers who were in New Zealand in the 14 days prior to the boarding, “says an Australian government website.

Quarantine is mandatory for travelers arriving in Australia from other countries, except countries that are in the “green zone”. States and territories have also put in place their own measures, including closing national borders, restrictions on round-trip travel to the state and a 14-day quarantine requirement.