A Stuff reporter was working on a story about Covid complacency in Blenheim’s town centre on Friday. By Monday, she could test the old adage, ‘the difference a day makes’.

“If I felt it was essential I would scan, but there’s no community transmission,” a shopper said on Friday during a 30-minute stakeout of a supermarket entrance.

He refused to give his name, and added that, in any case, he didn’t carry his phone with him.

LAWRENCE SMITH/Stuff

Long queues of waiting cars at all testing stations across Whangarei following the latest community case of COVID19.

“It’s not compulsory, is it?” he said. He did, however, sanitise before entering the store.

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Fellow shopper Marcia Conroy also sanitised, but did not scan, saying it was too much trouble to learn how to use the Covid Tracer app. She was happy to sign in if a place left pen and paper out.

Another customer, who wouldn’t give her name, was on the same page.

“It’s nice to have an option for those that don’t use their phones.” Her phone was too old to support the app.

Katrina Newman scanned in at a local supermarket, saying "I don't know why people don't do it more often!"

Helen Nickisson/Stuff

Katrina Newman scanned in at a local supermarket, saying “I don’t know why people don’t do it more often!”

One of the few that did scan was Katrina Newman. Asked if she thought Marlburians had become too complacent, Newman said, “Yes! I don’t know why people don’t scan more often. I don’t want to get sick.”

Some shopkeepers in Blenheim’s town centre said about half their customers were scanning the barcode on their way in.

Fashion Central manager Deborah McNabb said a lot of her customers signed the register if they didn’t scan, especially following the Government’s ‘Make Summer Unstoppable’ advertising campaign.

She had noticed over the holidays that visitors were more diligent, and they had possibly inspired locals to follow suit.

She remembered a group of elderly ladies from Motueka all scanning in, saying “We’re from Motueka, so we have to”.

Scanning takes only a few seconds using an app on a smartphone.

SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF/Stuff

Scanning takes only a few seconds using an app on a smartphone.

Specsavers retail manager Karol Galleguillos said while only about 50 per cent of their customers signed in, they kept a record of all patients in for an eye test.

Bed Bath and Beyond salesperson Fiona Prowse commented that many customers were frustrated during recent updates to the app, which caused delays in scanning.

She also thought the elderly were more diligent around record-keeping, with many choosing to sign in at the counter rather than scan.

At the Marlborough District Library, librarians said a lot of travellers and visitors to Blenheim signed in.

“I would also if I was going out of town,” one said. “I have the same routine in town and go to the same places, so would know where I’ve been, but if I went out of town I would tend to sign in.”

Phones were out on Monday, as shoppers got back into scanning into most places.

SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF/Stuff

Phones were out on Monday, as shoppers got back into scanning into most places.

‘I sometimes did’

But on Monday, after Sunday’s news of a community case in Northland, Marlborough had seemingly been shocked into action.

Another 30-minute stakeout at the same supermarket painted a very different picture, with many more taking the time to scan.

But some just eyed the QR code as they passed. A couple hesitated and turned back to scan.

“I know I should have been scanning, and I sometimes did, but I was getting a bit complacent,” Philippa Loan said.

Flo Schwass said she “wasn’t born for this century” and struggled with the technology needed. “I’m not always good at it,” she said, adding she was definitely more aware now.

Several shoppers weren’t aware there were alternatives to scanning.

“I don’t have a phone. What do you do?” said Jeanette TeHuia. When the register was pointed out to her, she dutifully went and signed in.

Another customer who battled with the barcode also signed in when the register was pointed out to her.

Contact tracing logbooks are available at most outlets for those who do not have phones, or whose phones don’t support the app.

SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF/Stuff

Contact tracing logbooks are available at most outlets for those who do not have phones, or whose phones don’t support the app.

On both Friday and Monday, many complained their phones were too old to support the app.

“I’m not upgrading my old phone just to sign in,” one lady said on Friday.

A poll on social media website Neighbourly showed about 15 per cent of respondents didn’t have a phone to support the app.

This was backed up by a salesman at a popular cell phone provider on Friday.

“We’ve sold three phones just this morning to elderly people who have been nagged by their families to upgrade their old phones, to phones capable of running the app so that they can sign in,” he said.

A second cell phone provider, on Monday, also reported increased sales to mostly elderly people with old phones, who were upgrading in order to use the app.

Many retailers also noted that older shoppers often required assistance to scan, and that those who had upgraded to new phones were often not sure how to use them.

The Marlborough District Library runs free courses on Tuesday and Thursday mornings to help people with computer and smartphone skills.

Alternatively, you can “book a librarian” for a free 45-minute one-to-one session. Visit marlboroughlibraries.govt.nz for more.



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