Woolworths trials QR code contact tracing to reduce spread of COVID-19

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Image: Woolworths

Woolworths has announced it will be trialling a QR code contact tracing initiative in hope of reducing the spread of COVID-19.

Voluntary to customers, the contract tracing initiatives will allow them to scan a QR code at the entrance to check-in and register their contact details.

Woolworths assured that all details would be “encrypted, securely stored, and only be used to let customers know about a confirmed case in the store or to notify relevant health authorities and their nominated agencies for the purpose of contact tracing”.

“Contact tracing is an essential step in preventing the spread of COVID-19 and we want to do our bit to support the broader public health effort,” Woolworths Supermarkets general manager for Victoria Andrew Hall said.

“While checking in and sharing contact details will be voluntary for our customers, we encourage shoppers to make use of it in our trial stores. Doing so will enable health authorities to make rapid contact with potentially impacted customers in the event of a confirmed case of COVID-19 in our stores.”

The trial will take place across 11 Woolworths supermarkets in Victoria and one Woolworths Metro in New South Wales.

These stores include Victoria’s Tarneit Gardens, Williams Landing, Hogans Corner, Altona North, Hoppers Crossing, Williamstown, Point Cook Town Centre, Featherbrook, Sunshine Market Place, Braybrook, Millers Junction (Altona North), and Surry Hills Metro in New South Wales.  

In the event that Woolworths is notified of a positive coronavirus case in one of its stores, it will proactively contact customers who voluntarily provided their details through the QR code initiative. 

At the same time, emails will also be sent to Rewards members who have shopped in the store in the previous two weeks and those who have selected it as their preferred store. 

The supermarket giant also announced it will be expanding its Q-Tracker initiative to more than 40 stores in Victoria to allow customers to book a time to shop at a store, without the need to stand in a queue.

The expansion of the Q-Tracker “book my shop” feature follows trials in its Taylors Lakes, Hampton Park, South Melbourne, and St Helena stores.

The web-based tool was recently introduced to support enforced social distancing rules. It uses real-time data to show customers the length of queues and provides an estimated wait time of how long before they can enter a store.

Using the “book my shop” feature, customers will be able to confirm a booking time and head straight into a store without needing to queue.

“More than 35,000 of our customers have already made use of Q-Tracker to plan their shop and hundreds have booked in shopping times at our trial stores … We’ll continue to look for new and innovative ways to build on our existing COVIDSafe protocols and procedures to ensure they’re as robust as they can be,” Hall said.

On Monday, Woolworths said in light of tighter restrictions being enforced in Victoria, it will also temporarily convert three of its supermarkets — Dandenong Plaza, Watergardens South, and Mountain Gate — into temporary online delivery hubs to serve online delivery customers.

The conversions will enable Woolworths to pick and dispatch online orders to customers in surrounding suburbs, including online orders made through its priority assistance service to support the elderly, people with disability, and those who are required to self-isolate.

During March and April, Woolworths set up similar hubs in Sydney and Melbourne to meet online demand while government restrictions were enforced during the early days of the pandemic.

Updated 4 August 2020, 4:40pm AEST: Additional contact tracing information added.  

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