A smart phone with blank screen is in focus, in the background is a brochure, cards and the black and white square of a QR code in a display holder.

QR codes or electronic check-in methods are now mandatory for all hospitality venues and some other businesses in NSW.   We explain what they are, how they work, and what to do if you do not have a mobile phone.

Electronic entry recording for patrons is to help with contact tracing with COVID-19. It is a contact-less method of customer record keeping.  For some members of the community, this is a new technology. For some people it is not accessible or inclusive, so we explain about QR codes, how they work, and what to do if you cannot use an electronic method of check-in to a business.

Quicklinks

What does QR stand for? 
What is a QR Code? 
How does it work? 
Service NSW App
Video - Covid Safe Check-in
Privacy of QR Check-in 
NSW COVID-19 Safety Plan
What if I do not have a phone?
Mandatory Check-In Businesses
 

What does QR stand for?

QR stands for Quick Response. So QR code means Quick Response code.

What is a QR Code?

A Quick Response (QR) code looks like a square with a grid of smaller squares as a pattern inside. Usually black and white.

QR code is a style of bar code in a grid pattern. QR codes contain data or a tracker that points to a website or application. 

How does it work?

A smartphone can "scan" QR codes with the camera function. A QR code reader app can also scan the code. The code will then take the user to a website or application.

They are used as an Electronic "Check-In" and a "Contactless" solution.

There are many other apps and developers who make QR check-in codes. The NSW Government suggest that the Service NSW App will be the most secure way to protect privacy.

Service NSW App

Customers will need to have the Service NSW app on their phone or mobile device to record their visit.

Check-in is seamless by sending correct customer information directly to Service NSW. The business does not need to keep the data,  and it is available to NSW Health to gain access if it becomes necessary. 

Using the QR Code COVID Safe Check-in

  • When a customer arrives at a venue, they hold their phone camera or QR code reader over the code.
  • The smartphone then reads the code, and one of two things will happen:
  • It will ask the customer to download the Service NSW app
  • It will take them to the check-in if they already have the app
  • A staff member may check the successful sign-in on the customer's phone. Hold out your phone with the screen visible to the staff member. They do not need to handle your phone.

Video COVID Safe Check-In NSW Government 

Transcript at COVID Safe Check-In.

Privacy of QR Check-in

If the business has used the NSW Government QR check-in system the Service NSW app will scan. If the business is not using the NSW Government QR code, the Service NSW app will not be able to read it. You will need a QR reader app in this instance.

Privacy Concerns have arisen over outsourced COVID-Check in platforms. For example, QR Code developers, offshore providers, or Apps owned by companies that collect data. So if a business is not using the service NSW app to track check-in, before you use the service, consider the risks. Some allow the company to share details with "partners for marketing or promotions". Some are more prone to exploitation from cybercriminals. Some operate under privacy laws that do not adhere to Australia's strict policy.

The Privacy Act and the Australian Privacy Principles obligations still apply to businesses. You can read more at the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner.

Some virus protection options will block QR code check-ins. Check with your service.

NSW COVID-19 Safety Plan

The plans provide directions on how businesses and organisations should meet their obligations under Public Health Orders. To operate in relation to COVID-19. 

Some businesses are required to keep a record of all staff, patrons and contractors visiting their premises.

Mandatory registration applies to

  • Gyms
  • Hospitality venues. (Restaurants, cafes, pubs, clubs, small bars, cellar doors, breweries, distilleries, karaoke bars and casinos) 
  • Funeral homes and crematoria
  • Places of public worship.

Under Public Health Orders, the following businesses must have a member of staff act as a COVID-19 Safe Hygiene Marshal:

  • Indoor gyms
  • Food and drink premises
  • Pubs
  • Registered clubs
  • Small bars
  • Micro-breweries, small distilleries holding a drink on-premises authorisation under the Liquor Act 2007 and cellar door premises
  • Casinos

What are the options if do I do if I do not have a phone?

QR Codes will not work without a phone or mobile device, or if there is no internet, wi-fi or mobile data connection. 

Businesses deemed mandatory for electronic check-in are listed here. Businesses may have an online form through a tablet or other device stationed at their entry or point of purchases. Staff can assist you to use, or fill in on your behalf.

For customers without a mobile phone, venues are asked to record their details and time of entry on another device. 

Venues must manually collect contact details in instances where electronic forms can not be accessed, including during internet outages. 

NSW Government states that:

"If any customers are unable to use the QR code, businesses should have an alternative check-in method available, such as an SMS service or manual check-in with a staff member."

Businesses should adopt accessible and inclusive practices in actioning Covid-19 check-in standards so that all members of the community are considered.

Privacy Note

  • Businesses that request customers to self-enter their private details must ensure that individuals only access the page or section that shows their own information record. 
  • The collection of personal details must be in a way that protects them from disclosure to other customers.

Mandatory Check-In Businesses

Under the new rules, any businesses who do not record contact details of customers via QR codes or other electronic forms will face strict penalties. 

The new rules will apply to:

  • amusement centres
  • aquariums
  • business premises that are used for auction houses, other than clearing houses
  • business premises that are used for nail salons, beauty salons, hairdressing salons, waxing salons, tanning salons, spas, tattoo parlours and massage parlours
  • crematoria
  • drive-in cinemas
  • entertainment facilities
  • hospitality venues, including casinos, food and drink premises, micro-breweries, small distilleries, pubs, small bars and registered clubs
  • function centres
  • funeral homes
  • information and education facilities (other than libraries)
  • party buses
  • properties operated by the National Trust or the Historic Houses Trust
  • public swimming pools
  • recreation facilities (indoor)
  • recreation facilities (major)
  • sex on premises venues
  • sex services premises
  • strip clubs
  • vessels used for hosting functions or for commercial tours
  • zoological parks and reptile parks.

The new rules will also apply to events, including:

  • corporate events
  • funerals and memorial services and gathering after funerals and memorial services
  • wedding services and gatherings after wedding services.

Information sourced from

NSW Government COVID Safe Marshal
NSW Government QR Codes
NSW Government Legislation
NSW Government Customer record keeping 
Mandatory Check-in for NSW venues

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