Mandatory QR codes “still on the table” for Sydney restaurants, says Premier

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NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian. Source: AAP/Mick Tsikas.

NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian has warned Sydney restaurants that the mandatory use of QR codes is “still on the table”, amid growing concerns that businesses are not complying with COVID-19 safety requirements.

“We’re concerned with compliance at some Sydney restaurants. We don’t have any room for complacency,” the Premier said on Monday at a press conference.

The warning comes after NSW Heath found it difficult to trace patrons of hospitality venues following the announcement of two new cases of locally transmitted COVID-19 since Sunday.

NSW chief health officer Kerry Grant said it was “quite concerning that we have had difficulties getting people who were attending those premises”.

“QR codes are our preferred method just because of the speed in which that data and the digital format in which that can be transmitted to us to facilitate contact tracing,” said Grant.

“It’s also important that anyone who is attending the restaurant logs in. So again if we have a situation where only one person on the table is logging in that person then has to recall everyone there and find the mobile phone numbers which can be challenging.”

Restrictions for outdoor dining were eased last Friday to allow one patron for every two square metres in outdoor spaces in NSW.

Over the past week, the NSW Premier has warned businesses of their obligations, saying businesses wishing to take advantage of the relaxed restrictions must use electronic methods like QR codes to record and keep contact details.

Data concerns

The market has been flooded by a range of QR code platforms since the pandemic began, with retailers and hospitality operators across the country increasingly signing up to use this technology.

However, Ben Richardson, founder of QR code check-in platform COVID Comply, says business owners and staff should also be visually confirming that someone has in fact checked in.

“That should be across the board, it should be a requirement,” he tells SmartCompany.

“For businesses with a small number of staff and lots of business that can be quite difficult,” says Richardson.

According to Richardson, the main hurdle business owners come up against is knowing enough about technology when making decisions about which platform to use.

“The most challenging thing that I find from customers contacting me is that they don’t know enough about the technology or data privacy to be confident in the decisions they’re making,” he says.

A misconception among many of Richardson’s clients is that QR code platforms are involved in sharing the businesses’ data with health authorities if necessary.

“Fundamentally the business is liable and they need access to the data to be able to provide it if requested instantly,” says Richardson.

“It should be in some sort of machine readable format,” says Richardson, or a format “health authorities can take and load straight into their Salesforce system really easily.”

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