Coronavirus: Keeping track of movements important to avoid jumping alert levels this summer - Chris Hipkins

The COVID-19 Response Minister says keeping track of movements and scanning QR codes is important to avoid jumping alert levels this summer. 

Last week, Chris Hipkins suggested the Government could in the future require Kiwis to scan in with the COVID Tracer app at large events and hospitality venues, which would aid with contact tracing efforts in the event a random COVID-19 case emerged. 

Scan rates have been relatively low for weeks now. 

Back in August and September, when a cluster forced restrictions upon Auckland, there were commonly between 1.5 million and 2.5 million scans a day. But that dropped down to between roughly 500,000 and 800,000 a day in October and November. After a mysterious case was found in Auckland on Thursday, scans jumped above a million for two days.

Speaking to The AM Show on Tuesday morning, Hipkins said the application was one of the best tools we have in the fight against COVID-19 and avoiding further lockdowns. 

"Rates have been very low, they have gone up a bit in the last couple of days. That's a good thing. But we really need to see those rates coming up," he said.

"If we need to contact trace someone, we know where they have been. But we can also push out notifications to alert people very quickly if they are at more risk. This is something that we should all be doing."

The minister said keeping a record of our movements could be essential to ensuring we have a summer out at the beach.

"We all love the freedom we have got. We all want to go to the beach over summer. We all want to have our family Christmas. One of the simple things that you can do to make sure that happens is make sure you are keeping good records so that if something happens we can contact trace quickly and we don't have to escalate the alert levels."

Asked what he thought of a 'no scan, no entry' policy for stores, Hipkins said businesses do have a role to play. 

"We have to think about enforcement... If you are in a restaurant, where you ask people to wait at the door and you show them to the table, you can be enforcing QR codes, you can be saying to someone 'scan your code then we will show you to your table'. If you are a bouncer at the door of a nightclub, make sure people are scanning in," he said.

"Those are the things that business can do, to help us ensure that we can keep them open. Everybody wants to see business continuing as normal and a big part of that is making sure we don't have to escalate alert levels."

The Government has promised throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to continually review the latest health advice and make adjustments to our measures. On Monday, Hipkins confirmed that masks would become mandatory on Auckland public transport and on all domestic flights.