Museums, galleries and stately homes are to be ordered to bar visitors unless they have scanned a QR code or handed over their contact details to allow for track and trace.
Under emergency rules introduced on Friday any individual who enters commercial or social premises such as cafes, restaurants, leisure centres, barbers and heritage sites, will have to scan the QR code on their smartphone to enable their contact details to be collected locally in the event of a spike in infections.
Legislation published under Health Protection Regulations states that the information collected must be retained securely for a period of 21 days and disclosed to the health authorities for the purpose of contact tracing if required.
Under track and trace health authorities would contact all those who might have come into contact with the infected individual at venues they visited so that they might be tested and self-isolate if required.
The new rules state: “This is to enable the Secretary of State to contact those who may have been infected by, or exposed to, coronavirus, and to receive relevant advice.”
From Thursday all such businesses will be required to display official NHS QR code posters ahead of the NHS COVID-19 app being rolled out nationally.
Pubs, bars, cafes and restaurants in England will also be required by law to take bookings of no more than six people, ensure people are not meeting in groups of more than six and make sure there is sufficient space between tables.
Up until now the requirement to collect contact details of visitors and customers has been voluntary. But under the rules it is the responsibility of venues to bar access to anyone who refuses to hand over their contact details, either via QR code or on paper.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “It is essential contact logs and displaying NHS QR codes are mandatory so there is consistency across the country and the public can seamlessly provide their details.
“With cases rising, it is vital NHS Test and Trace continues to reach as many people as possible to prevent further transmission of the virus. Businesses have a duty to ensure this function is in place.”
Venues who fail to comply with the new rules risks a fine of £1,000, rising to up to £4,000 for repeated breaches.
Charities for the elderly expressed concerns that some old people might be put off by the idea of scanning a QR code if they do not own a smartphone. However, they emphasised that pen and paper would remain as an alternative.
Caroline Abrahams, Charity Director at Age UK, said: “Getting test & trace to work properly is clearly very important, but someone who is not a smart phone user won’t be able to benefit from the App when it comes into use soon.
"It would be a shame if an older person was put off visiting their local hairdresser, library or swimming pool as a result, but really there’s no reason for them to worry as these settings are legally obliged to record their details from now on anyway, whether they have scanned an NHS QR Code poster with their phone when they enter the premises or not.“
The mandatory rules come into force after a survey carried out by The Telegraph earlier this month found that as many as a third of cafes and restaurants were failing to obtain customers’ contact details, threatening to severely undermine the NHS’s test and trace programme.
The failure of so many eating establishments to make sure they have diners’ names and telephone numbers would leave health officials unable to contact many individuals during a spike in coronavirus cases, making it harder to contain the further spread of the virus.
The Telegraph carried out a survey of dozens of cafes, restaurants and pubs in Bristol, Colchester, Newcastle Upon Tyne and Leicester last week and found that a third did not insist on taking down every customer’s contact details.
The rest either did not bother asking for names and telephone numbers or left it up to individual diners to write these down or scan their details into a mobile app. Many people simply did not bother.
What information will be collected?
Name of the individual
Telephone number on which the individual may be contacted.
E-mail address or a postal address if the individual is unable to provide a telephone number;
Date and time the individual entered the premises
If a group is entering then the number of people in that group.
What happens to the information?
The manager or owner of the premises must “retain, securely, the details provided to, or recorded by, them for a period of 21 days beginning with the day on which the details are provided”.
This information must then be destroyed as soon as reasonably practicable after the expiry of the 21 days unless there is another reason for it to be kept.
Which venues will be required to collect contact details?
All hospitality venues, including restaurants,dining rooms in hotels or members’ clubs, cafes, including workplace canteens, bars and pubs.
Leisure and tourism services, including amusement arcades, art fairs, betting and bingo halls, casinos, clubs providing team sporting activities, facilities for use by elite and professional sportspeople, heritage locations such as castles, stately homes and other historic houses, hotels, B&B accommodation, campsites, chalets, holiday parks.
Indoor sport and leisure centres, swimming pools and lidos, museums and galleries,music recording studios open for public hire, public libraries.
Close physical contact services, including barbers, beauticians, dress fitters, tailors and fashion designers, hairdressers, nail bars and salons, skin and body piercing services, sports and massage therapists, tattooists.
Services provided for social, cultural and recreational purposes in community centres, youth and community centres and village halls