Coronavirus: Can pubs and restaurants refuse service if you do not have the NHS Covid app?

Conrad Duncan
·3-min read

The launch of the NHS Covid-19 app has sparked confusion among members of the public following reports of pubs and restaurants turning away customers due to them not having the app on their phone.

Health secretary Matt Hancock celebrated an “enthusiastic response” to the long-awaited launch last week as he said more than 10 million people had downloaded the app.

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) said six million people had signed up to the app on its first day, with four million more joining by midday on Sunday, and more than 1.5 million venue check-ins had been recorded on Saturday.

Mr Hancock urged more people and businesses to support the new system as social media users claimed they had been turned away from hospitality venues due to not using the app.

This is what the government’s guidance says about whether you need the app to go to a pubs or restaurant…

Pubs and restaurants must display QR code posters for the app

Hospitality venues have been told that they must register for an official NHS QR code and display an official NHS QR poster for customers.

These QR codes can be scanned on smartphones and through the app to check-in at premises and are used to allow contact tracers to reach multiple people if an outbreak is identified at a venue.

If there is an outbreak linked to a venue, NHS Test and Trace will send a message to app users with the “necessary public health advice”.

What should I do if I cannot (or do not want to) download the app?

The government’s guidance states that pubs and restaurants should not make using an NHS QR code (either through the app or on a smartphone) a precondition of entry.

“Venues must not make the specific use of the NHS QR code a precondition of entry (as the individual has the right to choose to provide their contact details if they prefer),” the guidance says.

This means that customers can choose to give their contact details manually by recording their name, their phone number or email address, and the date and arrival time for their visit.

In groups of up to six people, a lead member of the group can record contact details on behalf of the rest of the group.

The government recommends that contact details should be recorded electronically if possible but a paper record is acceptable - hospitality venues must also ensure there are manual options for people to leave contact details if they do not own a smartphone.

Can a pub or restaurant refuse entry to someone who does not want to give their contact details?

Yes - hospitality venues have been told that they must refuse entry to a customer who does not provide any contact details.

“Hospitality venues must refuse entry to a customer or visitor who does not provide their name and contact details, is not in a group (for which one other member has provided name and contact details), or who has not scanned the NHS QR code,” the guidance says.

Are there any exemptions?

There are a number of people who are exempt from giving details, such as police officers or emergency responders on duty and people visiting for the sole purpose of making a delivery.

Children under the age of 16 also do not need to give contact details and venues should not refuse entry to someone who does not have the mental capacity to provide their details.

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