While hospitality venues in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have been required to collect customer details since last month, until now it has not been mandatory for hospitality venues in England.
From next Monday (14 September), however, that's set to change according to Health Secretary Matt Hancock.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4's Today programme this morning (9 September), Hancock said it would become compulsory for pubs and restaurants to take customers’ details for the test and trace programme.
“We’re also going to enforce more strictly the rules around hospitality, including for instance you need to give your contact details when you go to hospitality, which has so far been voluntary,” he said, adding that while "large swathes" of the hospitality industry had followed track and trace, some had "chosen not to".
Though it hasn't previously been compulsory to collect contact details in England, the Government's advisory guide for hospitality operators does include asking businesses to keep a temporary record of all customers for 21 days in order to assist with the NHS Test and Trace scheme.
"So far, the implementation of this hugely important system has been inconsistent," says Dhilon Solanki, UK & EMEA director at Sprout CRM, which has been offering a free and data secure track and trace system to the hospitality sector and which is now being used by businesses including Starbucks, Shake Shack, IHG Group, Wimpy, Coppa Club, and Hollywood Bowl.
"This welcome announcement will guarantee that all hospitality operators are taking the necessary steps to be COVID safe".
"It is critical that all venues operate a COVID safe environment for their guests, whilst providing a seamless and non-intrusive customer journey. It is vital that both customers and staff feel safe when dining in restaurants, pubs and bars. We aim to give these venues peace of mind.”
"Using Sprout’s check in solution allowed us to roll out a simple and transparent check in tool for guests visiting our sites," says Iwona Dobek, head of IT at Coppa Club. "Setup was quick, fully supported by their team and results reassuring for those worried about their personal data."
The news comes as the Government prepares to announce its 'rule of six' that social gatherings of more than six people in England will, with some exemptions, be banned in England from next Monday (14 September) as fears of a second Coronavirus wave across the country grow.
A law change will ban larger groups meeting anywhere socially indoors or outdoors, including in hospitality settings such as restaurants and pubs.
It will be enforced through a £100 fine if people fail to comply, doubling on each offence up to a maximum of £3,200.
Hospitality venues and brands can sign up to the free track and trace system here.