From today Victorians must check in at all retail stores, supermarkets and cafes — even if they're just grabbing a takeaway coffee.
Under new state government rules, customers have to sign-in with the state government's QR code check-in app, Service Victoria.
Previously it was only recommended that people check-in at retail settings if they stayed at a venue for more than 15 minutes.
The changes come after months of sustained criticism about Victoria's QR code system, with a move to a uniform system across the state only coming into effect on May 28 — the first official day of Melbourne's lockdown.
When announcing the new rule on Wednesday, Victoria Chief Health Officer Professor Brett Sutton said it aimed to boost contact tracing efforts by "chas[ing] down every single person who might be exposed".
Acting Premier James Merlino said authorised officers would be visiting supermarkets and other retail settings to make sure people were following the rules.
He said fines would be issued "if necessary".
Victoria's lockdown has been extended, but now there are differences between Greater Melbourne and the regions. Here are all the new rules and restrictions.
Authorised officers can fine businesses up to $1,652 for not following QR code rules and a further $9,913 if there are repeated breaches.
However, a government spokeswoman told the ABC there was a two-week amnesty period for retailers and supermarkets to implement the QR code system, and the government was also working on an alternative check-in system.
Before the lockdown, customers dining at a restaurant or cafe already had to check-in.
The government spokeswoman added checking-in via the app was preferred, but business owners can use pen and paper to record the customer's name and phone number as a last resort.Look back on Saturday's coverage of the coronavirus pandemic
The alternative came as a relief for Jin Mei Chen, who runs an Asian grocery shop in Bentleigh in Melbourne's south-east.
She was worried that some of her customers — particularly older migrants with poor English language proficiency — might struggle with downloading the app and scanning the QR code.Jin Mei Chen worries the QR code rules have not been effectively communicated with Victorians.(
ABC News: Christina Zhou)
Some people also might not have a camera phone or have their phone with them when they're shopping, she added.
On the eve of the new rules, there have also been some teething issues and uncertainty about what retailers need to do.
Ms Chen said she did not know she had to ask her customers to sign-in — no matter how long they had been in the shop — until she was informed by the ABC yesterday.
She did not even realise that she had to register for a QR code until last Friday, when two authorised officers went to her shop to check her compliance with the rules.
"I thought it was only for restaurants, so I didn't register," she said.
"We didn't know, maybe it's because our English is poor."
Asked if she saw the government announcement on Chinese social media WeChat — one of the primary sources of news and information for Chinese migrants — Ms Chen said she had not.
Ms Chen said she hoped the government could "pay more attention" to the needs of older migrant business owners like herself and provide them more support.
She suggested this could include calling or writing to shop owners to notify them about the changes, adding that translating the message into different languages would be very helpful.
This is not the first time there have been concerns about the speed and quality of government coronavirus information being shared with migrant communities.Grocery owner Jin Mei Chen says she is happy to follow the rules if they are communicated to her.(
ABC News: Scott Jewell)
Fred Harrison, chief executive of Ritchies IGA, said there was uncertainty yesterday on the eve of the new check-in rules, but customers were coming into their stores wanting to do the right thing.
He said they were able to help customers who have not used a QR code before, but also acknowledged it could be harder for smaller retail outlets to enforce the new rules.
"We're lucky in supermarkets, we have more than one person in our store," he said.
"There are some retail outlets that operate solo, so they're going to be trying to do QR codes and serve customers at the same time. It is challenging.
"But I think the public have been really good … people haven't been whining or complaining or getting upset … and I would think once we get through the first couple of days, this will adapt quite well."