22 Aug 2021

Covid-19: Mandatory sign-ins now required for most events, businesses

2:06 pm on 22 August 2021

Mandatory sign-ins are being introduced for busy places and large gatherings to ensure the government can contact trace quickly, Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced today.

The Covid-19 tracing app in action.

Photo: RNZ

This means those responsible for businesses and events will need to ensure people keep a record when they visit, either by scanning QR codes with the Covid-19 Tracer App or making a manual record.

There will be a fine for businesses that fail to keep contact tracing records in line with what the government currently have in place under the Covid-19 Response Act, which constitutes a fine varying between $300 to $1000.

However, Hipkins said government are reviewing the penalties and any change would require legislation to be put through parliament.

"It is clear that when people use the app or manually sign in, rather than relying on memory, contact tracing can happen much more quickly," Hipkins said.

"We know from our own and overseas examples that an outbreak of Covid-19 can be extremely difficult to trace and contain without people keeping a good record of where they have been and who they have come into contact with.

"So we are making it mandatory at the sorts of places where people gather consistently and in large numbers to ensure that people scan or sign in.

"This includes cafes, restaurants, bars, casinos and concerts, aged care, healthcare facilities (excluding patients), barbers, exercise facilities, nightclubs, libraries, courts, local and central government agencies, and social services providers with customer service counters.

"Those places where records are already kept and people are already required to sign in, like gyms and some workplaces, won't need to adjust what they are already doing."

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Photo: RNZ / Samuel Rillstone

The rate of people scanning in has dropped dramatically from last year's lockdowns.

Mandatory record keeping is currently required at social gatherings including when visiting a marae, at weddings, funerals, tangihanga and faith-based services at level 2.

It will now be a requirement for those businesses and events that are permitted at any alert level.

The obligation will be on the person responsible for the place or gathering to ensure people can scan or sign in.

This will become effective seven days after any change in alert level settings that might allow more businesses to open or gatherings to go ahead.

"We want to ensure businesses and those who may be organising a gathering or event have time to get this sorted," Hipkins said.

"I understand this adds an extra responsibility for businesses and hosts, but it is necessary to help New Zealand maintain its Covid-19 elimination strategy and help us return to the freedoms we have enjoyed for the past year which so many other countries have not.

"As we have said with masks and face coverings - encouraging people to wear one whenever they leave home and making it mandatory when visiting a business or service in alert level 4 - this will only apply to people over the age of 12.

"Face coverings, when used in combination with good record keeping, are two strong measures that will help in our defence against Covid-19."

More information can be found here on the government's website.

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