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Four Square Thames owner Nalin Patel believes managing noncompliance is going to be “the new norm” for businesses. Photo: KELLEY TANTAU


A Thames hairdresser has resorted to locking her door during the day to prevent fake contact tracing sign-ins, while a supermarket owner has had to bar entry to those who refuse to follow the rules.
Noncompliance with mask-wearing and QR code-scanning is becoming a growing concern for the Thames Business Association and its members, chief executive Sue Lewis-O’Halloran told The Profile.
At all alert levels, businesses such as supermarkets and retail stores legally must have a way for people to record their entry into the premises, and all customers legally must wear a face covering.
But Sue said she’d been told that some businesses had become “increasingly frustrated and frightened” by people who refused to follow Covid-19 requirements to sign in and wear masks.
The Profile visited a cafe, a retail store, a supermarket, and a hair salon along Pollen St on a Friday afternoon, and all of them had witnessed noncompliance to some extent.
Four Square Thames owner Nalin Patel reckoned it was going to be “the new norm”.
“You always get a few of those people, but we just tell them to put a mask on, otherwise we won’t let them in. If they are really rough and want to create a problem, we just tell them to go away.”
“Most people” listened when told to put on a mask, he said, but a small percentage refused to don one, even when provided for free.
“Some of them have exemptions, and I ask them to show it to us, but some don’t even want to do that.”
The ones who do get provided an exemption sticker to wear while in the store. This prevented other customers from getting concerned and aggressive, he said.
Meanwhile, across the road at Walter & Co, owner and hairdresser Leanne Grinder has had to lock her door to ensure the safety of her clients.
She’s had people go into the salon and provide fake phone numbers and names when

filling out the contact tracing forms.
“Our rules are different to most shops because we are in close contact, so that was the only way I could control people signing in and following the proper processes,” she said.
“Locking the door just makes me feel like I can breathe better and not get so stressed.”
Leanne said because it was difficult to socially distance, it was “very important” to know who was coming into the salon and to get their proper details.
“We’ve had fake sign-ins, fake phone numbers… This is about making our clients know they are coming somewhere safe and that they can relax here.”
The Thames Business Association (TBA) is urging compliance in order to ensure businesses can survive the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“At the TBA we are very concerned for each and every business, members or not,” Sue said.
“The fabric of our town is interwoven with our [member] businesses – not just on Pollen St, Queen St and in Goldfields Mall; in Kōpū as well and south to Hikutaia and north to Te Mata.
“Every business depends on us to help them survive through these uncertain times, and they will only be able to do that if each and every member of our community respects the protocols – scan and mask, scan and mask, scan and mask.
“Our lives and our livelihoods depend on every one of us doing this,” she said.
DETAILS: The Delta variant of the Covid-19 virus is more transmissible by droplets. Face coverings stop droplets spreading when someone speaks, laughs, coughs or sneezes. More info: