Covid 19 Delta outbreak: The PM says the Vaccine Pass only needs to be sighted – why that’s a big problem

OPINION:

Many business owners won’t have to scan the QR code on a person’s My Vaccine Pass.

They’ll only need to sight it, which will ease things along, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern told NewstalkZB and other media at a standup briefing.

It would, but it also opens the way for high jinks.

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Last week, the Herald pointed out that a My Vaccine Pass is emailed out as an editable PDF. That means a person can easily change the name, birth date or expiry date of the pass that appears on their phone’s screen, or that they print out.

The Ministry of Health said that was not a major issue,because those confirming a person’s vaccination status would scan the QR code on the pass, which could not be edited. The NZ Pass Verifier app would also automatically reject a pass with an expired date (as recorded by its QR code), whatever is written on the document.

That’s all well and good if a business has someone on the door actively scanning the passes.

But if they ease things along by just sighting a pass, then being able to edit it will become an issue.

Ardern said yesterday: “The Verifier App – as we’ve said all along, handy tool, but it is not a requirement to operate. You can sight someone’s vaccine pass. And if you have any concerns, you can ask for verifying ID, if you like.”

But it’s not like, say, the age requirement for buying alcohol, where youthful appearance will trigger a bouncer to ask for ID.

There’s no such obvious “tell” that a person has edited the expiry date on their pass – or, if don’t know their way around Adobe Acrobat – that they have simply borrowed someone else’s.

A photo ID on the vaccine pass is the obvious solution, but probably not one was tenable for a pass programme where one of the contracts wasn’t signed until October 13.

Starting much earlier during the 16-month gap we had between the first lockdowns and Delta could probably have meant that was a goer (earlier, the MoH said it wanted to hang fire to see what vaccine certificate initiatives were developed overseas.

Ardern said such casual checks were “no different from what most countries around the world are doing. Our Verifier app is actually an additional tool that not everyone internationally has used. It’s a handy tool, because it gives you confidence that the pass you’ve been shown is indeed a valid pass, but it is not a requirement.”

The Verifier Pass is now available on Apple and Google’s app stores.

Businesses with questions about it are being referred to the Ministry of Heath’s Verifier website, or their 0800 number.

They can also call 0800 800 606 or email [email protected]


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