Every Customer Must “Sign in” When Pubs Reopen

In yet another blow to the hospitality industry, the Government has announced that all customers at pubs, restaurants and cafes must provide contact details (either written or via the NHS Test and Trace app) on entry. Previously, only one member of each group had to provide details. Doing so was voluntary (staff were only asked to “encourage” customers to provide their details). But the new guidelines state that those who will not provide their details must be “refuse[d] entry”. BBC News has the story.

New rules to help pubs, cafes and restaurants reopen outdoors safely in England on April 12th have sparked anger from industry groups.

All customers will have to sign in on entry, not just one member of the group like before. It is also unclear whether payment at the bar will be permitted. …

Under the new guidance, every customer aged 16 and over will have to check in to NHS Test and Trace before entering a venue, or give their contact details to staff.

Pubs and restaurants must take “reasonable steps” to stop people who won’t comply from coming in, or they could face fines.

Carl Ford, an accountant based in Tamworth, told the BBC he was frustrated and confused by the rules.

“I feel like it’s almost like going back to school where I have to sign in and out,” he said. 

“I don’t understand why I have to do this in a restaurant or pub, but I don’t need to do this in a supermarket where you have a free for all. People don’t have to sign in and they can pick up fruit with their hands.” …

In a joint statement, UK Hospitality, the British Beer & Pub Association and the British Institute of Innkeeping said the rules would add “more confusion and inconvenience for customers and staff”.

When pubs and restaurants opened last summer, customers were “encouraged” to provide their contact details, but to do so was not mandatory (see official guidance below).

These guidelines have, however, since been updated: venues must now take “reasonable steps to refuse entry to those who refuse to check in or provide contact details”. Compliance is no longer a personal choice. It is mandatory.

Venues which do not force their customers to provide details will themselves face “financial penalties“.

After having been shut for almost a whole year, how are pubs and restaurants expected to survive if potential customers decide that – because of the new overbearing rules – it is easier and more enjoyable to drink with friends in their back gardens?

The BBC News report is worth reading in full.

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