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We have had some questions around the NHS Covid-19 app and if you need to download it onto your smart phone.

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, praised the uptake of the new app though urged more people and businesses to support the system.  However, there are some members of the public that have claimed they had been turned away from hospitality venues due to not using the app.

Hospitality venues 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”.

Do I have to download the app?  What if I don’t have a smartphone or just don’t want to?

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.

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.  However, this does not mean they need that details need to be provided via the NHS app.

“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.