Covid check-ins mandatory as lockdown extended

Wednesday morning, NSW Premier Gladys Berejilkian announced that the current Covid lockdown in Greater Sydney will remain in place, and restrictions in Regional NSW will continue as another 27 cases were recorded.

The lockdown was scheduled to end at midnight this Friday, July 9, but the Premier hinted at even higher numbers to come tomorrow and said the Delta strain of the virus has to be contained.

Face to face learning will resume in regional NSW when school returns on Tuesday. 

On top of the restrictions, starting Monday, all NSW workplaces and retail businesses will be required to have visitors and workers check in via the Service NSW QR codes which were established to track cases of the coronavirus.

The government said that by making the check-ins mandatory, it will ‘give NSW Health contact tracers real-time access to QR code data from a greater number of venues including supermarkets, retail stores, gyms and offices.’

The rules came with a promise that they would help businesses get back to normal more quickly. 

Minister for Digital and Customer Service Victor Dominello said the decision was made, since “the Delta variant of Covid-19 moves quickly and we must do everything we can to get it under control.”

“While many retail businesses, including large supermarkets and hardware chains, have voluntarily adopted the Service NSW QR code, this measure will ensure check-in rates are high across the board and contact tracers have access to reliable records,” he said. 

From July 12, businesses will be required to display the Service NSW QR codes and have a backup option for people to sign in without a phone. 

At Tumut’s All Saints Anglican Church, Reverend Mark Evers said they’re still working out the finer details to provide for church service check-ins.

“With an older congregation, many of whom don’t have mobile phones let alone smartphones, many people who attend [church] don’t have the capability of using a QR code,” said Rev Evers.

On Thursday, the government was providing conflicting advice regarding the requirements for churches and non-profits to have their own Service NSW QR codes, but the Minister’s office said places of worship will be included in the new rules, along with function centres.

“We’re still in the process of determining exactly the requirements for church services… but we are confident we’ll have plans in place for services on Sunday.”

Reverend Evers said the ongoing restrictions which prevent congregational singing are “probably the biggest impact that current restrictions are having on our time together” and said it was the rule that his church is “most looking forward to being lifted.”

“Although like all of us no one really likes wearing masks, we realise that’s a health requirement and everyone at church is wearing a mask,” he confirmed.

“You do what you’ve got to do given the times and situations and we are thankful that we can still gather together ,because we’re aware that many of our brothers and sisters in other parts of the state and country aren’t able to gather together.”

At The Gym in Tumut, members have been warned that they need to comply with the new restrictions, whether during staffed or unstaffed hours. The Gym has 24-hour video camera surveillance and staff said anyone who refuses to respect the rules will only be allowed to work out during staffed hours.

Owner Jess Sturt said overall the process has run smoothly.

“Our members have been amazing. They’ve taken the new restrictions in their stride and haven’t let it get between them and their mission of leading a healthy lifestyle!” she said.

The Gym has already had an optional QR code posted at the door and has been tracking users as they scan in and out of the facility’s systems, but Ms Sturt said they will move to the mandatory Service NSW system as of Monday, with staff watching to make sure the code is used.

“After staff hours it will be the responsibility of our members to ensure that they check in each visit and our camera footage will also be able to show us who stops at the QR code station and who walks straight past it, so we’ll be sure to give them friendly reminders,” said Ms Sturt.

The Gym’s current CovidSafe plan agrees to supply NSW Health with all contact tracing details within four hours of any official request. Ms Sturt said that was possible, but the new system will ease the administrative burden.

“This will make it a lot easier for everyone if a case was to arise in our area, so we fully support the new requirements,” she said.

The full list of businesses which fall under the new QR Code mandate include:

  • Retail businesses and supermarkets
  • Individual shops within shopping centres 
  • Shopping centres will also be asked to display QR codes at entry points where practicable
  • Gyms
  • Offices, including call centres
  • Manufacturing and warehousing
  • Universities and TAFE
  • Schools including teachers and visitors (such as parents and contractors) but excluding students.

Other businesses who already have the QR codes will also be required to check-in any visitors such as those picking up a take-away order, maintenance workers and delivery drivers.

Businesses can find the application form and more information at register for the NSW Government QR code.