New QR Code and Rules for Hospitality to be Considered

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has said that mask use and scanning at bars and restaurants could soon become mandatory.

Experts, including prominent epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker, have pushed for rule changes here for months. Mandatory scanning came into force in Melbourne earlier this month.

“The rise of the delta variant and the risk it poses to trans-Tasman bubble means it’s time to consider additional measures in our toolbox,” Ardern said at a post-Cabinet press conference on Monday.

Ardern went on to say that ministers will next week consider making QR code use mandatory in high-risk situations like bars and restaurants, as well as mandating face coverings at Alert Level 2 or higher in certain high-risk locations.

About 2600 people went to the same locations of interest as an infected Australian traveller who spent a rainy weekend in the capital, but only 585 alerts were sent out to people who use the Covid Tracer app.

“Use of the app is consistently low across the country,” said Ardern.

While people should be responsible for scanning in, enforcement of the rules would likely target businesses.

In Melbourne, authorised officers can fine businesses up to A$1652 (NZ$1773) for not following QR code rules and a further A$9913 (NZ$10,643) if there are repeated breaches.

COVID-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins said Cabinet would investigate the ability for “relatively modest” fines for transgressors and the ability for prosecution.

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