Drinkers must hand their phones to pub staff to prove they have registered on the NHS Test and Trace app when beer gardens open on Monday under a tightening of rules to track Covid in hospitality venues.
The latest guidance says pub staff must look at customers’ mobile phone screens to make sure that they have registered with Test and Trace before they can be served.
Drinkers will still have the option of registering manually by filling out a form with their name and telephone number.
The guidance, issued ahead of the outdoor reopening , says that “should someone choose to check in with the official NHS QR code poster, a venue should check their phone screen to ensure they have successfully checked in”.
Under the rules from Monday, all customers will have to register with Test and Trace rather than just one person per group.
Pub bosses have raised concerns that the rules will place an additional burden on staff as hospitality venues try to recover from the pandemic lockdowns . They are also concerned that staff who demand proof customers have registered could face abuse.
Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UK Hospitality, said: “This is putting high onus on individual staff working in premises to check people’s phones, and we are continuing to work with the Government to try and get a more pragmatic, proportionate and reasonable solution.
“We’re concerned to ensure that we minimise chances of harassment or abuse of staff.”
A government memo to the tourism industry, seen by The Telegraph, says that “in the rare case that a customer or visitor becomes unruly, you should follow your own security procedures”.
Officials from the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) are understood to be raising the issue with the Cabinet Office and Department of Health, which is responsible for the Test and Trace guidance.
Pubs may refuse entry if staff believe a customer has provided incorrect details, and venues that serve customers who have not registered could be hit with a £1,000 fine.
Campaigners said on Thursday that the rules risked conflicting with data protection legislation.
Madeleine Stone, the legal and policy officer at Big Brother Watch, told The Telegraph: “Requiring every single person who enters a cafe or pub to show their phone screen and hand over their personal details poses a serious risk to privacy and data rights and is based on exclusion, criminal sanctions and police enforcement.
“Businesses won’t be able to comply with this draconian new diktat as well as data protection law, which is why we’ve sent legal letters to the Department of Health and Information Commissioner’s Office as to whether these intrusive requirements are safe and lawful.”
A government spokesman said: “The NHS Covid-19 App is an important tool in our pandemic response and has prevented an estimated 600,000 Covid cases since launch. We encourage the public to download and use the app to help detect cases and prevent transmission.
“There is no requirement for venues to ensure people have downloaded the app. Whilst the app is the simplest way to check in, people should be able to provide their contact details to the venue if they prefer that option. The app has been designed with user privacy in mind, so it tracks the virus not people and uses the latest in data security technology to protect privacy.”
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