‘Apply common sense’: Health Minister defends supermarket QR code check-in system – The Age

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Those who shopped at the Woolworths between 4.45pm and 5.45pm on May 22 must now get tested immediately and quarantine for 14 days, Mr Foley said on Tuesday.

He said QR codes “give our tracers the certainty they need”.

“The rules are that if you are there for 15 minutes that you are obliged to [sign in],” he said. “Certainly we would encourage people to apply common sense and to apply the QR code system whenever and wherever they can.”

Epidemiologist Mike Toole, from the Burnet Institute, said the idea of enforcing QR codes in supermarkets was “fine in theory”.

“But I worry about the practicality of it. They have really wide doors going into supermarkets so I wonder if it can really be enforced. And now we have to wear masks again there is less risk,” Professor Toole said. “It should be enforced in smaller venues, and bars and restaurants.”

Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton was asked on Tuesday about the positive Wollert case and whether there was any crossover between new coronavirus cases and shoppers at Epping North Woolworths on May 22. “There is no crossover between that date and the Wollert case,” Professor Sutton said. “We haven’t identified anyone who has been to the Epping North Woolies.”

On Monday he acknowledged that gathering QR codes at supermarkets would be helpful to contact tracers. “But there will always be levels of compliance that relate, not just to whether it’s mandated, but to how much information provision people get and the … motivation they have,” he said.

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Supermarket operators argue their stores are high-frequency sites with lots of quick visits, where customers are constantly on the move and social distancing is easier to maintain. Operators have also told the government that mandating check-ins at a store with high foot traffic could also create crowding risks.

Professor Sutton agreed with this, saying it was a bigger challenge to enforce QR code sign-ins at supermarkets and shopping centres. “Any of those really high-volume sites where there are dozens and dozens of people coming through every minute is more challenging,” he said on Monday.

A Woolworths spokesman said the supermarket chain had extensive COVID-safe plans in its stores, and this included signage, floor decals to maintain social distancing, customer limits where needed, and elevated cleaning standards.

“When a positive COVID case visits our stores, we work closely with health authorities to assist with public notices and contract tracing. We also notify our customers on our website, in-store and via Everyday Rewards emails,” the spokesman said. “As an added measure, we offer voluntary customer check-in with the Victorian government’s QR code system.”

A Coles spokeswoman on Tuesday said customers should use QR codes when they visited stores. “We ask that customers check-in each time they visit our stores by scanning the QR codes on display at the front of the store, above the sanitiser stations within the store, or at the checkouts,” she said.

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