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Is track and trace compulsory?

As of 19th July 2021, track and trace in hospitality is no longer mandatory. The legal requirement to use track and trace by customers and by businesses has been removed but Government is urging everybody to continue to use the systems they have but it is no longer compulsory. 

There has been a lot of change about track and trace since the COVID19 pandemic began. Your hospitality business should make sure that you have an up to date COVID19 risk assessment which outlines you current approach to track and trace and other control measures.

Remember a COVID19 risk assessment is a legal requirement – if you use the Pilla Document Platform, then you should use the step by step COVID19 risk assessment template tool on there to update your document. If you don’t use the Document Platform, then you need to complete this yourself.

As there has been a lot of changes to the requires of track and trace, here’s a recap of the history of track and trace so far.

June 2020

Within the Government guidance set out in June 2020 to manage to COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in hospitality venues, there was one particularly controversial section – track and trace. This section of the guidance said that venues ‘should’ collect customer details and store them for 21 days in order to aid with the COVID-19 track and trace effort. However, this wasn’t compulsory. Many venues, for differing reasons, chose not to or found it too difficult to implement practically. One of the big challenges in carrying out track and trace was doing so in a GDPR-friendly way.

September 2020

New legislation from the Government released in September 2020 made track and trace in hospitality venues mandatory. This meant that all venues must collect and store customer details for 21 days.

Businesses were told that they must collect the following customer information and details:

  • the name of the customer or visitor. Preferably the name for each customer, but you can collect the name of a lead customer (one customer) instead.
  • a contact phone number for each customer or visitor, or for the lead member of the group.
  • if a phone number isn’t available, you should ask for their email address instead, or if neither are available, then a postal address if the next best thing.
  • the date of the visit, the arrival time and if possible then the departure time as well
  • if the customer will only interact with one staff member, then you should record who that was

It was also made compulsory for businesses to display the NHS Test and Trace poster in their venue. This meant downloading and printing a unique QR code poster which would be displayed at either the entry point or the paying point. This poster offered a quick and easy way for customers to ‘check in’ to the site by scanning by their smartphone on the QR code.

Of course, this meant that customers without a smartphone could not use the facility. The use of the poster was therefore not mandatory for customers to use – just to reiterate here, display of the poster by the venue was mandatory but use by the customer was not.

So venues needed to operate a track and trace system which was available to customers not using a smartphone. This ‘low-tech’ option is seen as the backup version and could be as simple as a clipboard, pen and paper.

April 2021

Outdoor hospitality reopened in April 2021 and there were more changes to the track and trace rules.

Here’s what stayed:

  • Businesses must display the NHS Test and Trace QR Code poster as they have done before
  • Businesses must have a system in place to collect customer data from those without a smartphone, as you have done before

Here’s what changed:

  • Business had to now collect data from every customer or visitor aged 16 and over. Previously, it was only compulsory to collect data from the lead member of each group but now you must collect for every member of the group. Customers could use the NHS Test and Trace poster to do this, meaning if each member of the group scanned the poster, they did not need to provide their details separately.

Because this information was now compulsory for each person, it meant that hospitality businesses must take reasonable steps to refuse entry to those who refuse to check in or provide contact details.

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