I've got my fingers and toes crossed for retailers that they'll be able to get back up to as close to full speed as possible, but I'm worried they're not abreast of the latest updates from the Ministry Of Health.

One big drawback for customers wanting to browse the shops is being held up at the door to sign cumbersome contact tracing forms. Stopping everytime you enter a shop to fill out your name, address and phone number is tedious- not to mention a pain for people in a hurry, which many lunchtime shoppers are.

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That's why I was disappointed yesterday to find so many retailers still doing it.

I was in one of Auckland's shopping hubs Newmarket, and I went into a small shop - I was the only person in it - and I was stopped at the door and ask to sign in the contact tracing book.

I took the opportunity to tell them the good news that the Government had changed this rule and, refreshingly, it was no longer required for retailers, especially small ones like them.

Not that I'll take it personally, but they didn't believe me.

I said: "It's true, look it up." I pointed them to several media stories on it.

The shook their heads. They said they hadn't heard it, and all they knew was contact tracing books at the door were compulsory.

I explained the Government won't be calling individual shops to tell them every time it flip-flops on a rule, unfortunately.

They still didn't believe me.


I suggested checking the Government's Covid-19 website where it says -"All businesses, except retail, are required to record details of people's movement on their premises."

The upshot is, despite them thinking I was making this all up, I was allowed in.

However, the contact tracing book remained at the front door.

I watched as the next customer who tried to come into the shop was stopped and asked to sign it.

Interestingly, and here's where this gets negatively impactful for retailers, the customer said they just wanted to browse and waved away the request to sign in, "don't worry about it", they said, and left.

Now how is it retailers are supposed to get back to full steam if they're having customers turn away because they can't be bothered or don't want to sign a contact tracing book?

Yes, the Government has flip-flopped on this rule and that's confusing and annoying for retailers, but it is not the Government's job to chase up every store to check it's up with the latest rules.

Kate Hawkesby. Photo / Michael Craig, file
Kate Hawkesby. Photo / Michael Craig, file

I do worry though, that we've been so brow-beaten by rules and compliance and instruction that we literally can't think for ourselves anymore, or question anything.

It's simple. You want customers back in spending money? Losing the contact tracing books is a good start.