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'What a shocker' – Backlash at cafe's sign telling patrons that scanning QR code is 'optional'

The Ministry of Health has weighed in after a South Island café owner added his own sign to the Covid-19 QR code outside his business, telling customers, scanning in was "optional."

Sign posted above QR code sign in at Mad Cafe, Golden Bay.

The importance of scanning in using the Covid Tracer app has been reinforced over summer by the Government as one of a number of measures to keep Covid-19 out of the community.

As such, businesses and venues have been actively encouraged to have their customers scan their QR codes.

But the owner of the Mad Café in Golden Bay, Tasman, who goes by the name of Nganga, says that “it’s not a law” that people have to scan in and that he’s “not policing people".

A passer-by, who posted the image of the sign, which reads, 'optional if you feel the need', to Twitter, warned followers to “avoid the café” and make it known to management, why.

The post elicited a slew of reactions, one Twitter-user saying “what a shocker. How do you deal with this sort of attitude?”

“I simply would not even touch the door handle,” another commenter said.

“Off my list,” said another.

A Ministry of Health spokesperson told 1 NEWS that "it’s not appropriate for a café to be writing ‘optional if you feel the need' on top of the QR Code".

"We understand it is voluntary to scan, however businesses are required to display QR codes for good reason. Many businesses recognise the importance of scanning and include the words ‘please scan in’ at the top of the code.

"We want people to record where they have been and the NZ Covid Tracer app and QR codes, along with Bluetooth tracing are designed to make that easy to do. We continue to encourage people to use these tools.

"We ask businesses to take the matter seriously, something New Zealanders also expect. Businesses know the impact a community outbreak can have on them and we all need to play our part," the spokesperson said. 

Nganga, who says he has owned the business for three years and lives on the premises, told 1 NEWS no one has taken issue with the sign.

“No one’s mentioned or said anything about it, - most people don’t think much of it.”

He says the six staff he employs don’t scan in “because they work here”.

“They don’t seem to even take notice, they just come and do their work.”

He says at this time of year there are a lot of holiday makers in the region, which normally has a population of 5,000.

Health officials reassuring New Zealanders Covid-19 vaccines won’t be rolled out unless proven safe

“There’s no virus here in the Bay,” Nganga says, adding that not all, but most customers visiting the café scan in, regardless of his sign.

Nganga says he “doesn’t accept” the coronavirus is real, “or the extra ones they are making up”.

“It’s all about getting the vaccine…and what goes into these unproven vaccines?... I’ve got a fair idea,” he says.

“A micro chip is one little thing I wouldn’t want having.

“I'm after the truth not twisted stories,” he says.

It comes only a few weeks into the Government's Unstoppable Summer campaign, designed to reinforce the basic messages Kiwis have been hearing to keep Covid-19 out of the community.

“We know in New Zealand that Kiwis are very, very mobile, we will be all over the country and therefore, if anyone’s carrying Covid-19 with them, the risk of spread is much, much greater if we can’t stop it really quickly. And that’s where things like contact-tracing really make a difference,” Hipkins said at the launch of the campaign last month.