Thursday, April 25, 2024

More QR codes for DOC huts

The Department of Conservation (DOC) is expanding the number of sites where it displays COVID-19 QR codes to enable better contact tracing.

DOC’s Director Heritage and Visitors, Steve Taylor said, “We’re confident our online hut booking system already ensures our most popular huts have an effective contact tracing system in place.”

“However, we acknowledge that having QR codes clearly visible encourages people to follow the right behaviours and the practice of scanning regularly.”

DOC has been working with the Ministry of Health, and as part of the All of Government response to COVID-19 it has reviewed its guidance on the use of QR codes at visitor facilities.

“DOC will be rolling out additional QR codes at Great Walks huts, along with serviced huts. Staff will also be displaying codes at toilets and shelters at high-use road ends,” Mr Taylor said. 

He said while the risk of spreading COVID-19 is low in the backcountry, DOC believed it could do better to help the Ministry of Health in encouraging a greater uptake of the COVID-19 app for contact tracing.

“It’s incredibly important we don’t become complacent around the use of QR codes and COVID-19. More people than ever are enjoying the outdoors this summer and we strongly encourage people to use QR codes at DOC facilities when they see them,” Mr Taylor said.

Nationwide, rangers will begin installing additional QR codes inside high use huts, campsites, and other facilities during their next visit. QR codes will be prominently installed inside buildings near the door to ensure the QR code is visible and protected from the weather.

“New Zealand’s backcountry is remote, and some areas can be challenging to access.”

“As it will not be practical for a ranger to visit and install QR codes inside every facility, if a QR code is not in place, people should keep their own record of the places they have visited by filling in the hut book, adding a manual entry into the COVID Tracer app, taking photos, or making a diary entry.

“DOC has robust and proactive COVID-19 operating guidelines and good systems in place to keep people safe, but visitors must play their part. People can choose what activities they are comfortable with, to stay home if unwell and to keep a record of where they have been,” Mr Taylor said.

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