The UK is hopeful to be returning to “as close to normal as possible” by late June when Covid restrictions are expected to mostly be lifted, but there are steps to be taken in between before meeting this “lofty” goal.
It now appears that relaxing lockdown orders will go hand in hand with more strict tracking of people’s whereabouts, proposed to be a way to slow down the spread of the virus.
And some of the rules that will have to be implemented managed to turn even bar owners against the NHS Test and Trace coronavirus tracking program and app – that’s already thoroughly criticized and even ridiculed for its lack of efficiency and high costs.
The plan now is to allow reopening of pubs and restaurants as of April 12, but only outdoors; and, to be able to allow their patrons entry, these establishments will have to require proof of registration on the Test and Trace app. Otherwise, customers will be turned back.
Pub staff will be required to ask to check people’s phones for proof of registration. The new rules apply to all customers instead of one per group, say reports.
This leaves the hospitality industry, already ravaged by more than a year of lockdowns, worried that employees will be facing additional burdens, and given the nature of these establishments – namely, as places where people go to drink – figurative and literal pushback by some patrons cannot be ruled out.
“We are continuing to work with the government to try and get a more pragmatic, proportionate and reasonable solution,” said UK Hospitality CEO Kate Nicholls.
However, the UK government doesn’t appear to be overly concerned about such scenarios playing out, saying in a memo The Telegraph had access to that “in the rare case” staff are harassed by “unruly” customers – the establishment should resolve the situation following its own security procedures.
It’s unclear how the authorities can be sure ahead of time that incidents caused by the Test and Trace requirement will be “rare” – but they certainly appear to be washing their hands off helping handle such problems.
The rule, on the other hand, is not voluntary: establishments that are found to be serving unregistered patrons will pay fines of £1,000.
“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,” said Madeleine Stone of Big Brother Watch.