Covid 19 coronavirus epidemic: record keeping will become mandatory at all levels
There are now 21 new cases of Covid-19 in the community, bringing the total number of people infected during the epidemic to 72. One million New Zealanders are now fully vaccinated.
Mandatory record keeping is in place for busy venues and large gatherings at all alert levels, the government said.
But retailers will be exempt from the new rules, which would require the business or host to ensure people can log in or scan a QR code or have their presence registered in some other way.
Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins broke the news at this afternoon’s press conference, saying it would help speed up contact tracing.
The ordinance would apply in high-traffic places such as cafes, restaurants, bars, casinos and concerts, elderly and health care facilities, barbers, gyms, nightclubs, libraries, courts, local and central government agencies, and social service providers with customer service counters. .
But it has since been confirmed that supermarkets and other outlets will be exempt. Hipkins said mandatory retail record keeping was being considered, but “at the end of the day we agreed that the burden of compliance on small businesses would be too onerous.” All companies were always encouraged to keep records as much as possible.
“Our priority for mandatory record keeping is where mask-wearing is impractical, for example where food and drink is consumed and where people congregate in greater numbers. The experience here and at stranger shows that these are the parameters that prove to be the biggest challenge for contact tracers. “
Speaking at the 1 p.m. press conference, Hipkins said the government had taken confidentiality and other considerations into account. He clarified that the mandatory part was to keep a record, and one way to do that was to use the Covid Tracer app.
Places like gyms and some workplaces where people already log in can continue to keep records this way.
Hipkins said business and hospitality were largely supportive.
“We want to give businesses a little time to adjust … we recognize that this is an additional tax on businesses, but much less than higher alert levels.”
Penalties for non-compliance were under review, Hipkins said, but any changes would have to be made through legislation.
The announcement was scheduled to be made last Wednesday, but it was no use as everyone was locked out.
At Alert Level 2, it is already mandatory to keep records at social gatherings, including when visiting a marae, weddings, funerals, tangihanga and religious services.
This requirement will now apply to affected businesses and events at any alert level, once they can open.
It will only start seven days after each drop in alert levels, giving businesses time to make the necessary changes.
“We know from our own examples and abroad that a Covid-19 outbreak can be extremely difficult to trace and contain without people keeping a good track of where they have been and who they are with. got in touch, ”Hipkins said.
“We want to make sure that businesses and those who are organizing a rally or event have time to address this issue,” Hipkins said in the press release.
“I understand this adds additional responsibility for businesses and hosts, but there is a need to help New Zealand maintain its Covid-19 elimination strategy and help us regain the freedoms we have enjoyed. over the past year and so many other countries don’t. “
As with compulsory mask wear, record keeping will only apply to persons over 12 years of age.
The Act party says it is happy that digitization is mandatory, but that it should be up to individuals, not businesses, to enforce it.
Chief David Seymour has raised concerns that companies need to employ more staff to make sure people digitize, or that staff face an aggressive customer refusing to connect.
“The government should be looking for ways to entice people to use the app, not recruit cafe workers, who are already in short supply, as reluctant law enforcement.”
Current penalties for non-compliance can be up to $ 1,000 and Hipkins has indicated that this could be revised but would require a change in the law.
The Herald asked the Hipkins office how companies can force people to log in and whether they or the individual would be penalized for refusing to do so. A Hipkins spokesperson said more details were yet to come.
There are now 72 cases of Covid-19 in the community, after 21 new cases were announced today. There are now over 280 places of interest – mostly in Auckland.