Kiwis questioning the need to scan QR codes in Phase 3

Laura James
Source: 1News

With only household contacts required to isolate in Phase 3 of our Omicron response, Kiwis out and about have been questioning the need to keep track of their movements.

It's still mandatory for businesses to display QR codes, and for the public to scan in.

In a statement, the Ministry of Health said, it "continues to encourage everyone to keep track of where they’ve been by scanning in by using the NZ Covid Tracer app".

But when 1News spoke to shoppers in Auckland this weekend, some couldn't see the relevance.

One said, "We were saying earlier, there's kind of like no point anymore cause there's no such thing as close contacts unless you're in a household."

Another told 1News, "It seems pointless... I haven't seen anyone scanning in today".

Act leader David Seymour told TVNZ's Q+A programme, "it's not making any difference, we should just dump it."

The number of those signing in has dropped.

Three weeks ago, the Ministry of Health reported 2.4 million scans in 24 hours.

As of 6:30pm, the number of scans today was half that, just 1,175,725.

Seymour said, "Fewer than 2 million people are scanning in each day, and even if you scan in the last 10 people at the venue apparently didn't so it's not clear how it's going to help in any circumstance."

The Ministry said, "There has been a very high level of scanning using the NZ Covid Tracer app throughout the Omicron outbreak

"We know a large number of people are now working from home, and it is likely that people are taking measures to reduce the chances they will get COVID-19, by reducing their movement to public spaces."

Bluetooth notifications are still working, despite the step back from contact tracing.

"The duration has been extended to 1 hour proximity – rather than the previous 15 minute exposure time", a spokesperson said.

It says it's helpful to be aware you’ve been exposed, especially if you're vulnerable to severe COVID-19 illness, or are planning to spend time with someone at risk.

Epidemiologist Michael Baker told 1News, "I think one approach would be to focus on the higher risk places you're going to, particularly hospitals, aged care facilities... all those places where you might have quite a bit of risk of infecting those who're more vulnerable.

"It's useful to keep scanning in and definitely turn the Bluetooth function on."

He also believes retaining the habit of tracking your movements in important.

"We don't know what tools we'll need in the future for managing what comes after the Omicron wave."

Owner of Auckland restaurant, Parnell149, Jazz Singh admitted it's hard to enforce the mandate.

"They don't want to scan", he said.

"People are not clear, they're confused, what direction to head into."

He believes all the changes to rules is putting people off dining out, reporting a very quiet first weekend at Phase 3.