More businesses are turning to alternative contact tracing methods to protect customer's privacy.
It comes after a warning from the Privacy Commission about "poor privacy practice" with contact tracing registers. The commission says registers need to be managed in ways that protect a person's details from being accessed and misused.
Welcome Bay man Maurice Mckeown shares those concerns.
He was denied entry into a Tauranga second-hand store last year after refusing to write down his details on a contact tracing sign-in sheet.
The 79-year-old said he had never used sign-in sheets as he was worried about privacy but was in support of the sign-in box alternative.
"You have got to keep your information confidential for all these sorts of things," he said.
McKeown said he did not own an "expensive" smartphone so could not use the Tracer app and would have been happy to use a sign-in box that some retailers are using to protect customer privacy.
Cherrywood Four Square made the switch to a Covid-tracer sign-in box at the start of this year, which had proved "popular" with safety-conscious customers.
All Foodstuffs stores across the Bay of Plenty were given the option to switch to sign-boxes at the time.
People add their details to a small paper square and then drop them into a ballot box.
Cherrywood Four Square store owner-operator Regan Arnott said they had received positive feedback from customers who didn't have the Covid tracer app.
Cherrywood Pharmacy manager Rachelle Smith agreed. She said they followed in the footsteps of the Four Square when the country was last in alert level 2.
Smith said some customers were "particularly cagey" about writing down their details on a sign-in sheet.
"We had a number of customers mention that they didn't like writing down their details for everyone to see. We saw what the Four Square had done so we copied along."
Privacy Commissioner John Edwards said if they continued to see "poor privacy practice" with contact tracing registers, he would consider using the new enforcement tools that became available on December 1, 2020.
The law change meant that organisations would need to report privacy breaches that had caused, or were likely to cause serious harm to the office. The Privacy Commissioner was now able to issue compliance to business notices and new criminal offences were also introduced.
He said they had also been notified of cases where there had been "very real potential" for serious harm to result.
For this reason, contact tracing registers needed to be set up and managed in ways that protected a person's details from being accessed and misused.
"We have seen that the practice of businesses having paper contact tracing registers where the people's information is easily viewable is fairly widespread. While businesses are trying to do the right thing, this is not good privacy practice.
"Our office has provided guidance over the past year for ways that business can collect contact tracing information in a way that protects personal information - such as through the use of individual sheets of paper and ballot-style boxes which are securely locked away at the end of each day."
Businesses are required to display an NZ Covid Tracer QR code under alert level 1, but do not need to have an alternative contact tracing system. Under alert level 2, they must have an alternative system for people who do not use the Tracer app.
Edwards said if a business does provide an alternative contact tracing system, it should use a privacy-protective system that prevents others from seeing or photographing the personal information of others.
Age Concern Tauranga general manager Tanya Smith said sign-in boxes were a good option for elderly people without smartphones.
"There is a percentage that are not comfortable or cannot afford to have smart devices."
She said the Covid Tracer booklet was also a good option for those without smartphones.
A Ministry of Health spokesperson said they were in support of sign-in boxes and the decision around whether to use one was for individual businesses to make.
Anyone concerned about the privacy of sign-in sheets was encouraged to have a chat with their local business.
"We acknowledge from a privacy perspective, sign-in boxes or other methods that keep personal details protected are recommended," said the spokesperson.