Woolworths is trialling a new digital contact tracing system and is sharing real-time data to show when its stores are busiest, as the supermarket giant steps up its health and safety efforts. 

The news comes as new research revealed that many businesses are failing government contact tracing directives. According to a survey conducted by Pureprofile and commissioned by SafeEntry, 30 per cent of Australian businesses with customer foot traffic do not use a visitor check-in system that complies with their state government directives, and 21 per cent do not use a check-in system at all.

The new voluntary contact tracing solution will be introduced at 11 Woolworths Supermarkets in Victoria and one Woolworths Metro in NSW. Customers can use a QR code at the entrance to check-in and register their contact details, similar to the system many bars and restaurants have already introduced as restrictions were eased. 

Woolworths said all details will 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,” said Andrew Hall Woolworths Supermarkets General Manager. 

“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.”

Another digital safety tool Woolworths has recently introduced is the Q-Tracker. It’s a web tool that uses real-time data to show customers whether stores have had to implement a queue at entry to support social distancing and any wait time associated with it.

The data allows customers to plan when they want to shop, avoiding the busiest periods. They can also make a reservation to avoid queues. 

“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,” Hall said. 

“Based on the positive feedback from customers, we’ve expanded the booking function to a further 40 Melbourne 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.”

Earlier this week the supermarket recommended visitors to its stores in parts of in NSW and ACT wear masks as a result of the increasing numbers of COVID-19 in the community. The face coverings are mandatory in Victora.

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