18 Feb 2021

Covid-19: QR code scanning too difficult for businesses to enforce if mandated - EMA

10:26 am on 18 February 2021

It will be too difficult for businesses to enforce scanning of QR codes if it was mandated, says the Employers and Manufacturers Association.

A person using the Covid Tracer app

The Employers and Manufacturers Association says some may face assaults as a result of confronting those who don't scan. (File image) Photo: RNZ / Dom Thomas

The government this week said it was actively considering mandating the use of the Covid-19 Tracer app, in a bid to boost the number of people scanning. However, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said there was hesitancy due to the potential compliance cost.

Employers and Manufacturers Association (EMA) spokesperson Alan McDonald told Morning Report it was a good idea on paper, but implementation might cause problems.

"If you make it compulsory then that implies somebody has go to enforce this thing and if you're looking at particularly small businesses ... that's putting a lot of onus on the owner or people running the store to perhaps front somebody who doesn't necessarily want to scan in."

McDonald said businesses probably wouldn't mind if it would help prevent another level 4 lockdown, but there would still be difficulties in enforcing it.

"We've been very fortunate in New Zealand that everyone's been pretty compliant, but you know there are overseas examples and there's rising resentment in some areas around the imposition of some of these things and it only takes one or two people to be upset and grumpy and then you end up with an assault at a work place and those sorts of issues. That becomes problematic, particularly at the smaller end of the business scale."

Meanwhile, Auckland Mayor Phil Goff told Morning Report the question around making QR scanning compulsory is whether that would really change people's behaviour.

"The weakness that we all have as human beings is that we become complacent very quickly. I've been many times to a supermarket or somewhere else, stopped to scan and then half a dozen people walk around me and go straight on through."

Auckland mayor Phil Goff speaks to media following Cabinet's extension of the alert level 3 lockdown.

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff. Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Goff said he himself didn't feel he could stop such people and ask them to scan because that might cause disruption.

"When you get something like this [community transmission], immediately the number of people scanning goes up hugely as it did, the number of people using Bluetooth goes up," he said.

"What I would urge people out there, short of any mandatory requirement to scan, please, the way we've succeeded is not only going quickly and strongly but it's been been the co-operation of people playing their role.

"Every day is a risk and it's going to be a risk for sometime because it's rampant around the world, we can stop it as we've done better than any other country in the world, but it does rely on everybody playing their part."

Alert level change brings relief

EMA spokesperson Alan McDonald said although there was an expectation that Auckland would remain in level 3 after further community cases were revealed yesterday, businesses rejoiced when it was announced the city would move down to level 2.

He said adaptation and flexibility had been a feature of the business response, but there was some credit to the government too.

"I think the government has listened to some of the feedback from businesses for example ... it was much easier to get through the exemption process, and they've moved to a high trust model where they're saying to people 'look if you can meet those restrictions and regulations around level 3 then go ahead and open, you don't necessarily have to wait for permission to open'."

Yesterday, the government announced the Resurgence Support Payments would be available to businesses after just seven days instead of 14, and would include time at level 2.

McDonald said while this did not fully compensate businesses for loss, it recognised the struggles of those in Auckland.

"Just keeping mind too that it's now the fifth lockdown under level 3 for Auckland, plus the level 4 one, so Auckland businesses have really bore the brunt of this.

"This will help some people get through, it will probably help most in the hospitality and event sectors who really got hit hard by the short, sharp lockdown on Sunday."

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