Companies confused by the “gray areas” of the new Covid-19 rules

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Confusion reigns for companies trying to get a handle on digitization and mandatory record keeping for “high traffic areas and large gatherings.”

Photo: RNZ

The government announced yesterday that mandatory logins are being introduced to ensure the government can contact Trace quickly.

Among the list provided by the Department of Health were obvious culprits of super-spreaders like casinos and concerts, but in their absence were large retail companies that would include Miter 10, Bunnings, K-Mart and The Warehouse, malls and supermarkets.

The prospect of requiring record keeping has been on the cards since June, around the time an infected traveler from Sydney came to Wellington and visited a number of restaurants and tourist attractions, but miraculously didn’t. infected person.

The announcement was due to take place last week, but has been delayed due to the current outbreak.

Business NZ chief executive Kirk Hope said it was not exactly clear which companies should comply.

“I’m sure officials have worked out the details, but it needs to be more clearly communicated to the companies as it is going to affect.

“They said events and venues etc., but I think there certainly needs to be more clarity on who will have to report from a mandatory point of view… There are penalties if you don’t. you don’t comply, so if you’re a business and you don’t know if you’re covered or not, that won’t be particularly helpful. ”

Companies that failed to maintain contact tracing records in accordance with what the government currently had in place under the Covid-19 Response Act, could be fined $ 300 to $ 1,000.

Kirk Hope, CEO of Business NZ

Business NZ chief executive Kirk Hope said it was not clear which companies need to follow the new rules.
Photo: RNZ / Dan Cook

Hope said the companies were already dealing with clients who were provocative over other government regulations, such as wearing masks, which could make matters worse.

“Businesses have to do it. It is not their choice. So the message is that the public is lenient with people and we have already seen cases of assault from people choosing not to wear masks.

“We don’t want to see this stuff anymore.”

Initially, the Countdown and Foodstuffs supermarkets weren’t sure whether the order applied to them, until the government clarified the notice later Sunday evening, which excluded them.

“A mandatory record keeping requirement for the retail industry was considered, but we ultimately agreed that the compliance burden for small businesses would be too onerous. We encourage all businesses to promote the use of QR codes and record keeping as much as possible, ”Covid -19 Response said Minister Chris Hipkins.

He confirmed that the requirement would only apply to places where wearing a mask was impractical and where people gathered in large numbers.

Retail NZ chief executive Greg Harford said that while this excluded the retail industry as a whole, gray areas remained.

“There are definitely a number of businesses where it will be a bit gray. The ones with cafes inside are a very good example. I think the rules will certainly apply to the coffee part of that business while this may not apply to the store in general. “

Customer aggression towards employees has increased over the past 12 to 18 months and it was not fair that they were the ones to force check-ins, he said.

“Enforcement of this should be left to the police rather than to businesses.”

Cafes, bars and restaurants have been specifically named as places that must oblige.

Tony Crosbie operates 14 sites across the South Island and said clients who refused would simply be turned away, but he didn’t expect a pushback based on the last time there was pressure on holding of files.

“What I found with the customers was that they actually respected him because they knew we were trying to protect them. And of course at the table we had the disinfection and all the equipment that we needed them to feel safe in the place too. “

“If that means we can reopen our businesses, then I think that’s an easy question.”

As long as that was the scope of mandatory orders, hotel companies would be on board, he said.

“There are rumors that people have to wear masks inside reception areas and it will be an absolute disaster.

“People aren’t going to sit around a table with their mates and wear masks. It’s just not practical. So we’re 100% behind the plotting, but absolutely not with a mask … if it’s a matter of mandatory masks then leave us locked in. “

Customers or people working in customer-oriented roles in an essential service such as a pharmacy, supermarket or gas station should wear a face covering.

Likewise, they are legally required on public transport and flights.

Mandatory record keeping would come into effect seven days after a change in alert level, to give reopening businesses time to prepare.

Privacy Commissioner John Edwards said it was not clear how mandatory record keeping would be enforced or how companies would keep information secure.

Edwards said Morning report most of the demands made on New Zealanders have been based on a strong link with the fight against the pandemic.

“With this proposal… this evidence base is not so clear on the benefits of requiring companies to keep records versus public campaigns that promote them.”

It was not clear how the measure would be applied and there were no details of the responsibility of the host sites if someone appeared to be scanning, failed to do so, or noted false contact information.

It was also unclear how companies would keep information in records securely and ensure that it was only used for public health purposes.

“If we see these open ledgers sitting on counters and bars so that you can see everyone’s email and phone number, it’s going to put some people off.”

There should be a specific legal limitation on the use of the information, he said. For example, contact information should not be immediately added to the company’s mailing list.


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