COVID-19: Concerns elderly won't scan QR codes on buses

From next Friday it'll be compulsory for COVID-19 Tracer app QR codes to be displayed on all modes of public transport, but there are concern elderly people won't use the technology.

Many don't have the right smartphones for scanning the codes, but the Government says there's other ways people could be tracked down should they come into contact with a COVID-19 case.

Cheryl Marsters won't be scanning a QR code when she gets on a bus as her phone doesn't have the capability to do so.

"I don't have one of those flash phones, this is my phone and it does all I need it to do."

Marsters' old-school Nokia doesn't come with apps, meaning there's no way to scan QR codes on the bus.

"My phone's about 20 years old," she says,  "I just use it for phoning and texting."

Caroline Hyde also won't be using the app.

"Well I won't be able to, I haven't got a cellphone," she says.

If there was a COVID-19 case on board, how would health experts trace passengers like Marsters and Hyde that hadn't scanned?

Health Minister Chris Hipkins says it is possible to track people who aren't able to scan QR codes.

"There are other ways if we end up needing to contact trace someone on public transport,  and they haven't scanned their QR code, as long as we know what bus they were on and what time they were on that bus."

Other ways, meaning: "We do that through public notifications which we have done."

The public transport risk was recently highlighted when two people travelling on a bus, but not together, were later diagnosed with COVID-19. There were two others on the same bus that couldn't be tracked down.

Marsters and Hyde could both be tracked through their senior citizen gold cards.

Then there's the HOP cards. Currently you can't travel on a bus without one. The problem is many people don't register their cards, so the advice is please do register, to ensure you can be traced if you've been exposed to COVID-19.

Auckland Transport says it's increased cleaning on buses and is asking everyone to follow the new rules.

Stacey van der Putten from Auckland Transport says: "When you board a bus, you board through the rear door of the bus and there will be seating indicators there for you, so do follow those to make sure you're supporting the physical distancing requirement."

As of Monday face coverings are also mandatory, public transport pulling out all the stops, to put the brakes on a virus that's not slowing down.