NSW unleashes ‘compliance blitz’ to combat COVID complacency

Businesses in Bondi and Coogee are among those being visited by officials following a drop in the use of QR codes.

The compliance blitz, which kicked off on Wednesday, is in response to the state’s two new COVID-19 cases and concerns over the low check-in rate at the XOPP restaurant in China Town visited by one of the infected people.

Contact tracers are still trying to locate the source of the infection.

Minister for Customer Service Victor Dominello said the community had become complacent, providing a strong case for the blitz to take place.

“There’s been a drop off of about 25 per cent in relation to the QR code check-ins over the last two or three months,” Mr Dominello said.

“You only have to turn the TV screens on to know that there is no room for complacency — not even in this great southern land.”

Restrictions were introduced across Greater Sydney this week until 12:01am on Monday 10, and include limiting the number of people inside homes to 20, and mandatory mask-wearing indoors, and on public transport.

‘Mushroom cloud’

Mr Dominello said these precautions were necessary, likening the virus to a “mushroom cloud”.

“We only have the first few moments to control it in the stem, ” he said.

“You need the QR check-ins to help the contact tracers. Once it goes beyond that no amount of contact tracing is going to help.”

People’s up-and-down behaviour towards the virus, vaccines and check-in systems was “normal,” said Clare Southerton from the Centre for Social Research in Health at the University of New South Wales, and she was generally supportive of response by health officials.

“The risk we feel will affect whether we check in or not, and whether we bring a mask or not,” Dr Southerton said.

“Whether COVID is in the news or whether it is something that is coming up in our social media feeds is very much going to impact that behaviour.

“A lot of the time people who test positive for COVID haven’t done anything wrong. They have checked in at the venues, and that is what they are supposed to do.

“And emphasising those points is an important thing about our public health authorities can do to encourage people to continue to do, use the QR codes and check-in at venues,” Dr Southerton said.

Undercover investigators

Up to 30 undercover inspectors with the power to close down venues for a month and issue on the spot fines have been out and about in Sydney’s east and the CBD.

The operation, which runs in conjunction with the government’s Dine & Discover voucher scheme, is expected to end in June but before heading to regional areas including Gosford and Wollongong,

More than 3.6 million people in NSW have downloaded the hospitality and entertainment vouchers with an estimated $20 million being pumped into the state’s economy.

Liquor & Gaming Director of Compliance Dimitri Argeres said the popularity of the voucher system meant that venues had to be more “COVID smart and COVID safe”.

“A key part of compliance for hospitality businesses is the requirement customers sign in using the Service NSW QR code,” Mr Argeres said.
The addition of XOPP to the list of exposed venues was “grossly disappointing”, Mr Dominello said, and there was no excusing businesses that didn’t use their QR codes.

“It wouldn’t trouble me if they [restaurant XOPP] were fined $5,000.

“If you think about businesses like them, they’re exposing the entire good work of the people of NSW over the last year, and it’s not like we’re asking for a lot,” he said.

NSW recorded no new locally acquired cases of COVID-19 in the 24 hours to 8:00pm last night. There were 22,153 tests carried out during this time.

There were six new cases in returned overseas travellers in hotel quarantine.


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