When Boris Johnson announced that pubs could reopen on 4 July, The Winterbourne community pub in Wiltshire scrambled to change its messaging. It had been preparing to reopen the garden in July, in addition to the takeaway pints and meals on wheels it had been running during lockdown. Then days after a local newsletter went out on 20 June welcoming people back to the pub garden, Boris Johnson announced that pubs and restaurants could host people indoors from 4 July – just as long as they were able to collect details from customers to allow the NHS to test and trace any outbreaks of the virus.
In his announcement, Johnson said the government would “work with the sector to make this manageable”. But businesses say they have instead faced the tricky process of gathering and storing potentially sensitive data alone – while customers fear they are giving their details away with no information on how it will be stored or used.
“When the government said on the 23 July that we could do eat-in as well, all of our planning went out the window,” Emie Hawkshaw, landlady at The Winterbourne, says. “We put in a one-way system for people, then made the accessible toilet the only one available so people aren’t squeezing past one another in the ladies and gents – otherwise you have three to clean down – and then we had to decide what to do with contact tracing.”
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