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Covid Tracer app rolls out

Countdown customers use the NZ COVID Tracer app on two QR codes displayed outside the entrance. PHOTOS/ARTHUR HAWKES

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Across Wairarapa, covid-19 tracing signs have gone up in every business premises, displaying the QR code scannable through the ‘NZ COVID Tracer’ app, created by the Ministry of Health.

The app was available on the Apple Store and Google Play Store, with the government encouraging its immediate installation. Businesses were able to create their unique QR code for free, using the web form on the Ministry of Health’s website.

A woman scanning a QR code with the NZ COVID Tracer app.

Once signed up, usage was simple: just point the app [which uses the rear smartphone camera] at a QR code outside a premises, and your contact is instantly traced and uploaded to a database. If someone with covid-19 reports visiting the premises at a similar time, you are then notified immediately.

The requirement to display the posters was a legally-binding directive from the government, which said all businesses must have the posters in the window by the end of the week.

While reports of NZ COVID Tracer usage were sporadic during the earlier lockdown, the government appeared to now be very much encouraging its use, when entering all business premises.

Mark Heginbotham, owner of Newbolds Masterton, said he’d noticed many more customers using the tracker than last time.

“The first time around it was a bit like headless chickens, now I think people are taking the tracing more seriously – we know we can do it this time”.

Heginbotham was aware the QR code displayed was legally binding, but was unsure of the penalty for not displaying one, as were the other businesses spoken to.

Staff at Strada Cafe said that most customers had been using the app. They had also installed mini QR code signs on each table, to encourage entire groups to scan if they hadn’t already at the door.

Sarah and Warwick Delmonte, owners of Paper Plus Masterton, said they thought use of the tracer “was up by about 50 per cent” compared with last time.

“We had to show a few customers how to use it, and one of the girls helped someone install the app,” Sarah said.

The NZ COVID Tracer app was the number one charting app in New Zealand on the Google Play store [Android devices] and the App Store [Apple devices].

It was thought tens of thousands of people had downloaded the software since Tuesday’s announcement.

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