All NSW businesses must use Service NSW QR codes by Jan 1st or face $5k fine

    Australia is doing extremely well in managing the global pandemic that is COVID-19 and while being an island certainly helps, its also largely thanks to contact tracing that enabled most Aussies to have a fairly normal Christmas.

    After Victoria got on top of their cases, the most recent area of concern is the outbreak in NSW, specifically the Northern Beaches near Sydney.

    Until now, businesses were encouraged to implement a solution to track the details of people who enter their premises. In the event someone who visited that venue tests positive to the coronavirus, contact tracers would consult this record to contact others who were at the venue during the same time.

    With digital systems, the job of handing over this data to contact tracers is no harder than exporting a .csv file, but the NSW Government is no longer comfortable with businesses rolling their own solution.

    Given each solution varies in their data formats, combining them for a batch sms send would take longer than expected. Something like the way dates are captured is a great example of where things are more complex than necessary.

    Announced during today’s 11 am press conference by the Minister for Health, Brad Hazzard and later re-iterated by the Premier of NSW, Gladys Berejiklian, that from January 1st, 2021, the NSW Government will now require all businesses in the state to use the Service NSW QR code system.

    This means all customers will need to check-in using the Services NSW mobile app, which allows users to simply scan the QR code posted at the venue.

    In the event there is a positive case who confirms they visited a specific venue, tracing that would then be much easier and importantly faster, so contacts can be notified to isolate as soon as possible.

    Problems with the existing roll-your-own solution model were highlighted, including some businesses not even knowing how to request data from services providers they’d used for QR code systems, when asked to do so by NSW Health contact tracing teams.

    Each Business will need to register with Services NSW and be provided with a unique QR code. This can be printed and placed at the door to the venue and scanned by customers.

    This QR code will take the user to a website where they enter their name and phone number, while also registering the date and time they attended.

    Alternatively, if a user already has the Services NSW app, you add your details once, then simply check-in to a venue, as long as they have been setup with Service NSW QR code system.

    By using the Services NSW QR code system, the data is gathered in a single database, rather than ones hosted by hundreds of different providers, creating a massive data migration workload.

    It is a shame that the Federal Government’s CovidSafe app, couldn’t have been used to solve this nationwide.

    More information at

    Later this afternoon, NSW Health published a lengthy list of sites in Sydney, that confirmed cases travelled to. This shows the importance of being able to trace cases quickly and isolate people, as exposure on this scale could quickly lead to hundreds of cases, as we seen in Melbourne.

    Jason Cartwright
    Jason Cartwright
    Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021


    1. So is this for all business entry or just hospitality and hairdressers. Ie: if visiting a local family biz, ie butcher, specialty retail shop, to pick up a retail item or going into all shops just to browse for 5 – 10 mins or going to woolies? Not made clear by premier today

      • No this is for all business, for all customers. Said multiple times during the press conference. 4 days ago Service NSW tweeted it’d be hospitality, but clearly they’ve got Jack of the issues with multiple systems and want one simple solution for contact tracers.

        My experience at Supermarkets in Vic is that there are QR codes, but is not enforced.

    2. Thanks for this post Jason, but I’ve checked the NSW Dept of Health site and can find nowhere the requirement that “The NSW Government from January 1, will now require all businesses in the state to use the Service NSW QR code system to manage their attendees.” Do you have a specific link?
      I suppose that the web pages haven’t yet been updated.

    3. Jason, I have just spoken Service NSW and their advice and latest NSW Premiers’ media statement is contrary to your advice. It IS NOT for all business as of 1st January 2021. People, please investigate individually based on your own business operations and categorisation!

      • The challenge contacting people who may have contracted COVID-19 is not a small one. Where technology can help, I think it makes sense we use it. Name and number isn’t too much of an ask, given the Gov certainly knows that already.

        • So basically the government will now have a footnote to where each and every person goes regardless if they purchase or not. A computerised big brother. I understand this maybe essential for covid but can assure once in will be permanent. This is just another way the covid app will be applied forcibly and the businesses will cop the fine until they then employ security personnel to force us all to abide by the system.
          It’s already been implemented in all nsw health facilities throughout the state

    4. And if you don’t have a phone, can you still use pen and paper? My in laws and many family members have old style phones just for calling.

    5. It is really hard in rural areas where the phone signal doesn’t always work a lot of people in our town don’t have a phone whether it be mobile or home. We have a pub and know how hard it is.

      • Hi. We run a cleaning business and how this app and register is going to make it easier for our cleaners as they work on the location that we allocate them on regular basics, and how this app could be effectively used in cleaning business. Can I plz get the suggestion ?

        • Hi Deb, I imagine staff would check-in, much the same way customers would to a venue. Just fire up the Service NSW app and it’ll do a search of nearby registered businesses, select the relevant one and they’d check-in.

    6. The services website shows only compulsory for ( hospitality venues and hairdressers ) i own an Electrical Store, and i haven’t heard any different ???
      But if we have to, then no problems..

      COVID Safe Check-in (businesses) – FAQs
      COVID safe check in change from 1 January 2021 for hospitality venues and hairdressers
      From 1 January 2021, hospitality venues and hairdressers will be required to use the NSW Government QR code system. Learn more about COVID Safe Check-in.

        • All businesses required to have a QR code…are required to have the government one…if you are not a business currently required to…you don’t…simple.

          Have had it confirmed again by Service NSW, their website is up to date! Logic needs to be applied when listening to ministers.

    7. Fact is people lie; not just drug dealers, crims & other dodgy activities. Conspiracy theorists, anti vaxer’s etc will all lie. Logins must be fully digital & automatic, no manual entrys. The Opal card would work fine, no opportunity to enter false details. Big brother paranoids can just stay home.

    8. And what about those who don’t have or can’t afford a Smart phone? Are luxury technologies now being prioritised before FOOD SHELTER (RENT) and CLOTHING?

      • NSW prioritise this technology while 28,120 in NSW are homeless (2011 Census) and over 60,000 are on the NSW Public Housing waiting list, with those classified as ‘Priority’ having to wait decades for housing. The Berejiklian Government are deeming the publics purchase of luxury technologies more important than lifes basic necessities!
        Can’t eat a Smart Phone. Can’t live in a Smart phone. And a Smart phone doesn’t keep anyone warm in winter or cool in summer.
        When this is the attitude of government they no longer represent the people they are meant to be serving!

        • Easy to see where the govts priorities lie isnt it?
          They dont give a damn about the homeless or pensioners. This QR crap is an invasion of privacy, shop owners should be refusing to have anything to do with it they are doing the govts dirty work!

    9. Hi Jason, I really am paranoid about using these codes, also I am hopeless with technology and don’t know how to scan them anyway. And I’m in my 30s so people assume I have a smartphone and know how to use it, so I have started taking my old lg flip phone with me and when I get that out and look confused they just say oh don’t worry about it! I haven’t scanned a code yet and I don’t plan to.

    10. More big brother. Grow a spine and start pushing back against the government recording your personal information. It’s all a good idea until someone you know gets taken away in a van in the middle of the night. Think it can’t happen? Over 100 million people killed by totalitarian states last century.

      • Exactly. Not everyone has a smartphone either!! Get real! It’s all about control and nothing to do with health! WHO stated there is no evidence the covid vaccine works!!
        The V changes DNA!! No way I’m getting it- no one I know is getting it – we value our health. Volunteers have died from it!!

    11. I have an issue with the App it fails to load the details boxes to contain Name and Phone details. Have sent email to Service NSW to date no response

    12. Service NSW QR code application is an abomination. Doesn’t work. It couldn’t recognise QR code of Covid testing facility in RPA. What is a guarantee it works correctly every time? Pathetic

    13. Well great idea if all phones worked with this but they dont. Dont worry about the older generation that have very simple phones. I have loaded the app and it still does not work but I will not be going out and buying a new phone unless the government would like to help with funds.

    14. As a business owner l have the NSW code available but less than half of my customers know how to use it, have no smart phone or even a mobile. To date l have been recording their manual details and entering onto my computer at home. I have no idea how l can force customers to use the code

      • Hi Christine, Service NSW supply posters you can print out which explains the process to customers. I’d be very surprised if most customers don’t have a phone, sure there’d be a few exceptions, but wouldn’t expect that to be a high volume, certainly not half.

        • Hey Jason – obviously you aren’t over 60 and are not on a Pension. When rent is unaffordable (if even available) and the Pension is below the poverty line (if one’s only source of income) a Smart phone (and its usage charges) comes way down on the list of priorities when trying to budget … being a luxury item! Also QR codes are being printed by criminals and posted over existing ones to divert peoples information (or funds) by taking them to a different site. An article was recently published on this by a technology expert. Perhaps you simply missed it. There are many reasons the QR code won’t be used by many individuals … and pretty much everyone I know.

        • Jason you have no idea. I know many ppl who don’t have smartphone and can’t afford one!! Wake up to reality. Pensioners can’t afford one! We have to budget!!

    15. It would seem that if we don’t scan in everywhere such as supermarkets or service stations and public transport this will do nothing to trace anyone as we don’t all eat at cafes and go to the hair dresser.
      I would wonder what deal the supermarkets did with the government to avoid this as I was in a retail shop the other day and they would not take cash and said it was because they did a deal with the Government to stay open during covid shut down if they didn’t take cash?
      Be open and honest with the public and you will get there respect. Best of luck finning a cafe business in court if you can go to a supermarket with out signing in.
      Come on guys surely your smarter than this.

      • Hi Robert, the website is available (linked in the post), to register your business.. but given your business is closed, you wouldn’t have any customers and therefore wouldn’t have an issue until you open the doors.

            • Very poor presentation of the app
              The COVID SAFE should be at the top, I continually see people trying to use the LOGIN!!
              Also the idiot developers should have written it so it ran on previous Android versions.
              I am appalled that BIG $$$ is paid out to very bad software design!!!

    16. I am confused they say all business’s in the media but website says hospitality, i own a mechanical workshop so do i need a qr code as per the ministers press release? So confused

    17. So does a small hobby shop that resteicts entry to 1 customer at the entrance have tp have a qr code. And if so why is it made difficult to get 1. I tried back in december and it wanted certification n a course to b done. Happy to register n have a qr code. Not going to do a course or certification nonsense.

    18. There is still a problem. It’s for NSW business but if “Head Office” is not in NSW then they aren’t a NSW business they just have an office there. My father is in an Aged Care home and when I asked about it they said they didn’t have to…they have a QR code already (not a Service NSW one) So I’m still totally confused.

    19. Went to Prince of Wales Hospital today and their QR codes were not registered / compatible with the COVID Safe Check-in app. WTF?????

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