Pubs won’t automatically have to close if it turns out a customer has tested positive for coronavirus, according to government guidance.
Guidance issued by the government says if venues receive a request for information from NHS Test and Trace — suggesting someone linked to the location has tested positive for COVID-19 — it doesn’t mean they have to close.
Instead, NHS Test and Trace will work with that establishment to decide what action to take, which could include arranging for people to be tested, asking them to take extra care with social distancing and in some cases asking them to self-isolate.
The guidance comes as pubs, restaurants and bars across England prepare to reopen on July 4 as part of the government’s gradual easing of lockdown restrictions.
The government has issued guidance on how venues can maintain records of staff, customers and visitors to support NHS Track and Trace, including what information they need to take and what will happen if they are contacted.
It says: “If you receive a request for information from NHS Test and Trace this does not mean that you must close your establishment.
“NHS Test and Trace will, if necessary, undertake an assessment and work with you to understand what actions need to be taken.
“Depending on the circumstances and the length of time that has elapsed, this could include arranging for people to be tested, asking them to take extra care with social distancing and/or – in some circumstances – asking them to self-isolate. NHS Test and Trace will give you the necessary public health support and guidance.”
The guidance points out that there is a “higher risk of transmitting COVID-19” in premises where customers and visitors spend a longer time in one place and potentially come into close contact with other people outside of their household.
To manage the risk, it advises people in the hospitality and tourism and leisure sectors, as well as those who provide “close contact services” like hairdressers and barbers, plus places of workshop and local authority facilities like libraries, to collect details of staff, customers and visitors.
While concerns had been expressed that every single customer in a pub or restaurant may have to hand over their details, the guidance states that if there is more than one person, venues will only have to record the name and contact number of the ‘lead member’ of the group and the number of people in the group.
It also points out that the system is voluntary and if someone doesn’t want to share their details for NHS Test and Trace they can opt out.
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