Businesses urged to prepare for new COVID-19 app

Pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, cinemas and other venues across England and Wales are being urged to download QR codes to prepare for the public rollout of a new COVID-19 tracing app.

The NHS COVID-19 app will launch on Thursday 24 September and customers will need to download it onto their smartphones. Through the use of QR codes, it will enable people to ‘check in’ at every venue they visit, and the venue information will be logged on the user’s phone for 21 days. If, during that time, there is a coronavirus outbreak, the venue ID will be sent to all devices. If the app finds a match with any venues visited, then the user may get an alert with advice on what to do. (For more detailed information about how the app works, read this.)

Businesses are being urged to display QR code posters (which can be downloaded via a website or by following these instructions) clearly at entrances to make the process as easy as possible. As well as helping slow the spread of the virus, the app will help businesses meet the new legal requirement to record the contact details of customers, visitors and staff on their premises. Businesses who are already using their own QR system are also being encouraged to switch to the NHS Test and Trace QR code.

The government has published a customer logging toolkit for businesses and organisations which have been advised to collect customer, staff and visitor details on entry to their venues premises.

With coronavirus cases rising in the UK, and Sandwell (alongside Birmingham and Solihull) facing tighter restrictions from Tuesday 15 September, businesses are going to play a big part in making sure we get back on our feet swiftly. Customers are advised to only use businesses that are following the rules. Any concerns can be reported here.

It is essential businesses capitalise on the benefits QR codes can bring to protect themselves and their customers. All businesses have a responsibility to ensure COVID-19 safety measures are followed such as enforcing social distancing and wearing face coverings where appropriate. Sandwell Council will close businesses where rules are not followed.

Matt Hancock, Secretary for Health and Social Care, said: “We need to use every tool at our disposal to control the spread of the virus including cutting-edge technology. The launch of the app will aid our ability to contain the virus at a critical time.”

Simon Thompson, managing director of the app, said: “The QR system is a free, easy and privacy-preserving way to check-in customers to venues, and we encourage all businesses to get involved and download and display the official NHS QR code posters.”

For the latest information and advice for businesses, visit our coronavirus support pages.