Canberrans are putting down fake names on contact tracing forms when they enter venues, undermining authorities' capacity to control potential COVID-19 outbreaks in the territory, the ACT's police chief has said.
Chief Police Officer Neil Gaughan said the names "Donald Duck" and "Mickey Mouse" had been written multiple times on forms, which patrons are asked to sign when they enter a venue.
He speculated that those using fake names didn't understand how important their details could be in helping authorities to quickly trace and quarantine close contacts in the event of an outbreak.
"If Donald Duck and Mickey Mouse continue as it is, and we do have coronavirus spread in the ACT it is going to make it very difficult for us to contact trace, so people need to adhere to it," he said.
It is not uncommon for venues to leave the list of contact details in a visible place, such as a front bar, raising questions about privacy.
Chief Health Officer Kerryn Coleman acknowledged those privacy concerns and said authorities were now working with industry to help them transition to using electronic record-keeping of patron names and contact numbers.
She said experiences in NSW and Victoria had shown how crucial it was in the early stages of an outbreak to be able to quickly obtain accurate patron data.
"One of the challenges that NSW had with the Crossroads Hotel [outbreak] was illegible names and numbers, so therefore people were not able to be contacted," Dr Coleman said.
"Therefore, if they appeared to be a case within seven days they are not in quarantine and there is a risk of ongoing spread."
NSW now requires venues which use manual contact sheets to transfer that data into electronic form within 24 hours, she said.
As more business get the green light to reopen from next Monday, Chief Police Officer Gaughan implored Canberrans to keep complying with restrictions.
He said while "99.999 per cent" of people and businesses were following the rules, there was a "couple" of restaurants which continued to breach restrictions, including by seating more patrons than they were allowed to.
He said ACT Policing had issued two fines for COVID-19 breaches, in addition to the $5000 sanction handed to the owner of Charcoal Restaurant for "brazenly flouting the restrictions" after repeated warnings.
Chief Police Officer Gaughan said businesses could be shut down if they refused to adhere to the rules.
"We are only as strong as our weakest link - we are all in this together," he said.
"Most of the restaurants are doing the right thing and I thank them for that, but we need to ensure that everyone actually does the right thing.
"Those that aren't - we will be coming down like a tonne of bricks."