NSW says QR codes are the most effective system for COVID-19 contact tracing

State government reminds hospitality businesses and hairdressers they need to use the Service NSW QR code system come January 1.
Written by Chris Duckett, Contributor
Image: Service NSW

The New South Wales Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello has lauded the state's QR code venue check-in system, prior to it becoming mandatory for hospitality businesses and hairdressers when 2021 arrives.

If businesses do not use the Service NSW QR code check-in system, they face AU$5,000 fines, closure of the business for a week, and should the venue further fail to comply, potentially a month's closure.

"The consequences of non-compliance and complacency when it comes to electronic record keeping are serious -- it puts people's health at risk and destroys jobs," Dominello said. 

"The feedback we've received from contact tracers is that the Service NSW QR code is the most effective system in assisting NSW Health to protect the community.

"Our QR code also prevents the use of fake names as a customer's personal details are automatically captured via the Service NSW app when they scan their smartphone over the QR code."

Government advice on the check-in arrangements says customers who do not have the app, can still register at a venue via an online form.

The mandatory use of the Service NSW QR code was first announced last week, with Dominello adding on Wednesday over 50,000 businesses were already on board, and 2 million people have used it.

NSW is looking at whether to extend the mandatory requirements to other industries later in the year.

See also: 2021 outlook: he year of scanning QR codes until a vaccine arrives

Speaking at a press conference on Wednesday where 18 new positive cases were identified in the state in the past 24 hours, Premier Gladys Berejiklian said the usage of the app would allow for increased accuracy should the need to contact trace occur, would allow for people to quickly move in and out venues, and lessen the chances of congregation around business entrances, particularly on New Year's Eve.

Sydneysiders are being encouraged to "limit non-essential gatherings over the New Year period where possible".

Meanwhile at the federal level, the Commonwealth government has continued to push its expensive and problematic COVIDSafe app.

The app has cost millions to create and just shy of AU$7 million to promote.

A recent Victorian report into the state's contact tracing system said the effectiveness of the app was insignificant. Despite analysis of the COVIDSafe app being outside the scope of the inquiry, it noted that no evidence has been given to suggest that the app has been effective or contributed to supporting Victoria's public health response.

After pausing usage of the app, Victoria returned to using it, but only to validate the manual work of contact tracers.

Over in New Zealand, the nation's COVID Tracer app recently adopted the Apple/Google Exposure Notification Framework.

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