Vaccine app goes live, Govt warns there'll be glitches

Vaimoana Tapaleao, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 23 Nov 2021, 10:35AM
(Photo / Bevan Conley)
(Photo / Bevan Conley)

Vaccine app goes live, Govt warns there'll be glitches

Vaimoana Tapaleao, NZ Herald,
Publish Date
Tue, 23 Nov 2021, 10:35AM

As hairdressers and barbers around Auckland scramble to open on Thursday they could face glitches in a new app they must use to check whether or not a customer is vaccinated against Covid-19. 

Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson said the verification part of the new vaccine app that will allow businesses to verify customers' vaccination status may not be 100 per cent perfect. 

Speaking to Newstalk ZB's Mike Hosking, Robertson acknowledged that that was why Auckland hairdressers and barbers had been chosen to open up ahead of next Friday, when the country moves into the traffic light framework. 

He said that particular industry - rather than hospitality businesses - had been chosen as there were a smaller number of people involved when getting a haircut, for example, rather than having a meal at a busy restaurant. 

Put to him that did not make sense, Robertson said that lines had to be drawn at some stage and that ultimately, hairdressing was chosen in line with public health advice presented to them. 

Covid-19 Response Minister Chris Hipkins announced just after 9.30am that the app - dubbed the NZ Pass Verifier app - is now available for businesses to download via Apple and Google Play. 

The app will quickly allow a business to scan a person's vaccine certificate to ensure they are indeed vaccinated. 

"The app is ideal for any organisation that needs to verify customers' vaccination status," Hipkins said. 

"Hospitality venues, close-contact businesses, large gatherings, events, air transport and gyms are just some of the types of businesses that will need to verify customer's vaccination status if they wish to operate in higher risk levels under the COVID-19 Protection Framework. 

"For customers entering a business requiring proof of vaccination status, their My Vaccine Pass will be scanned by the verifier app. The verifier will show a green tick recognising the official QR code that is embedded into the customer's pass. 

Auckland hairdressers swamped with requests 

Auckland hairdressers and barbers were swamped with calls for appointments after Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern announced yesterday that those businesses would be allowed to open on Thursday - by appointment only and only for the vaccinated. 

Headstart Total Body owner Simone Jones said they had no idea they would be opening this week. They had heard rumours, but had been expecting to open on December 1. 

"It came as a huge shock to us," she told Three's AM Show. 

It would have been a really big help if they were given a few days notice, she said, with the phone going off continuously after yesterday's 4pm announcement. 

It was a huge job getting 13 weeks of clients re-booked into a short four weeks. 

Jones had dug out one of her old iPads at home and thought the device should be compatible with the verifier pp so they would just have the one device to scan all the passports. 

Jones said a little bit more clarity would be good, but the industry body had been given a demonstration of how it would work and it seemed pretty simple. 

Scanning the app was just one more thing they had to do on top of the extra sterilisation and cleaning, she said. 

Rodney Wayne head Julie Evans told Hosking that they were still investigating whether a mandate was necessary for staff, however their industry representative, the NZ Hair and Barbers Association, had found hairdressers to be high risk. 

Asked whether they are expecting tension when asking clients whether they were double vaccinated or not, Evans said she wasn't worried. 

"I'm not worried about it, we're prepared for the worst and plan for the best. 

"We 've got the teams all prepared, we've got online bookings which will have messaging to say to have your vaccine pass prepared for us to look at. 

The whole of New Zealand will officially move into the traffic light system just before midnight next Thursday, with hospitality businesses opening up for what is tipped to be a huge weekend particularly for those in our largest city. 

Hospitality New Zealand chief Julie White said despite next week's big opening day, it was still 11 days away and for some people, it was too late. 

"Absolutely it is too late for some people," she told Breakfast. 

Some business owners had already had to re-mortgage their homes, for example, she said. 

White said there was a lot of hurt among those in the industry. However, with news that they could open doors again next Friday, there was a lot of excitement. 

"The sector could've opened up sooner. We should've been open weeks away." 

The hospitality sector, at its core, is about taking care of people. The risk to open up hospitality businesses was the same as opening up retail businesses, she said. 

"We know what to do - we know how to keep people safe."