If you’re a weary camper rolling out (or inflating) your sleeping pad in NZ huts this summer, make sure you can before you nap. That seems to be the message from the Department of Conservation (DOC) who are ramping up the fight against COVID-19 in our most visited sites. That means scanning a QR code poster during your outdoor adventure.
While COVID seems to be well contained in this country, DOC is taking no chances with tracing people who use their facilities. They’re currently adding more QR codes for the NZ Covid Tracer app which, until now, were already being displayed at DOC visitor centres and serviced campsites. But after some encouragement from Kiwi trampers and following consultation with the Ministry of Health, DOC is expanding their QR code poster campaign. They’ll now be highly visible inside Great Walks huts, and serviced huts, as well as toilets and shelters at the high-use road ends. As DOC rangers visit these locations over the summer, they’ll erect posters as they go, so New Zealand’s outdoor enthusiasts can expect to see an increasing number in the months to come. The next step, of course, is for people to scan them. That’s always been the challenge, be it in the city or the great outdoors.
Of course, scanning won’t always be possible in some areas. Not every DOC facility will have a scannable QR code simply due to the remote locations of some of the facilities. In the cases where no code is visible, DOC is advising people to keep their own record by filling in the hut book, adding a manual entry to the app, taking photos or making a diary entry. Given that it was Kiwi trampers who primarily urged DOC to expand their use of QR codes throughout New Zealand anyway, it’s a fairly safe bet that most people will happily comply.
DOC is confident their online hut booking system is already very effective in tracking people’s movements, but believe the QR code expansion will encourage even greater uptake of the Covid-19 app. According to a DOC spokesperson:
“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,”
Kiwis are renowned for investing in the very best outdoor gear and “going bush” to get away from it all. But it seems there are no escaping QR codes, even when enjoying the relative seclusion of the outdoors. But, given that New Zealanders have done so well at containing the virus to date, maybe that isn’t such a bad thing.a