Digital gadgets lose function after short-lived QR code verification program

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The owner of a restaurant in Seoul’s Jongno-gu dismantles digital devices that had been used for a QR code entry diary system on February 28, as authorities announced the lifting of the vaccine pass from March 1. (Yonhap)

With the lifting of the computer-based COVID-19 contract tracing system, owners of cafes, restaurants and small and medium-sized shops are now wondering what to do with the digital devices they used to scan personal QR codes. .

Since March 1, the government has abolished electronic contact tracing and vaccine passes in which visitors to public facilities, including singing rooms, indoor gymnasiums and residential care homes, had to be screened. through mobile apps on their smartphones.

The program’s abolition came about nine months after the country adopted the QR code-based electronic entry log in June last year. The diary, which recorded personal information such as the visitor’s name, phone number and vaccination status, was intended to break chains of transmission through rapid identification.

From November, stores using alternative methods such as handwritten paper documents and call logs had been asked to unify them with the QR code verification system.

Small business owners feel relieved that the digitization process has been halted and hassled, especially during peak hours. The QR log system also placed the responsibility for any violations on the owners.

Moreover, the short-lived program leaves behind a mountain of smartphones and tablet PCs that have now lost their usefulness.

Some tablet PCs have been offered for sale in second-hand online shops.

“I had to take two pills abruptly to comply with the virus prevention measure. I sold them on an online second-hand market because they are no longer needed,” the restaurant owner said. Japanese in Songpa-gu, Seoul.

A pizzeria surnamed Kim, 47, said she gave her tablet PC a new function by showing a promotional video on a checkout counter.

“I think it’s better to keep it than to sell it at a loss. Also, I don’t want to be bothered to buy a new one if the government changes its policy again,” she said.

Kim Taik-whan, 40, who runs a small pub in Seoul’s Gwanghwamun, Jongno-gu, said he hopes the government will keep the QR code technology in place for other purposes as people have accustomed to the screen procedure.

“I hope we can keep the QR code system so pubs and bars don’t have to check ID cards to detect minors,” he said.

Starbucks cafes are stocking digital gadgets provided by corporate headquarters during the implementation of the QR code-based program, according to an employee. Many owners of small cafes and restaurants surveyed by The Korea Herald are also storing their old smartphones and tablets that they had used for the QR code verification system.

In January, the Ministry of SMEs and Startups issued a Quarantine Products Grant to ease the burden on small business owners due to the vaccine pass.

Up to 100,000 won ($82.24) has been donated per store to purchase quarantine items such as QR code verification terminals, hand sanitizers and masks.

By Park Han-na (hnpark@heraldcorp.com)

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