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The Government’s Covid secure guidance asks premises licence holders to record and keep a record of their customer’s details.  Here is what you need to know.

The Government’s guidance for pubs, bars and other licensed venues (allowed to open in July), entitled, Keeping workers and customers safe during COVID-19 in restaurants, pubs, bars and takeaway services, states:

“You should assist this service by keeping a temporary record of your customers and visitors for 21 days, in a way that is manageable for your business, and assist NHS Test and Trace with requests for that data if needed. This could help contain clusters or outbreaks. Many businesses that take bookings already have systems for recording their customers and visitors – including restaurants, hotels, and hair salons.  If you do not already do this, you should do so to help fight the virus.  We will work with industry and relevant bodies to design this system in line with data protection legislation, and set out details shortly.”

From the above, there are a few things to note:

  1. There is no requirement (i.e. “You should”);
  2. The customer details you collect should be kept for no longer than 21 days;
  3. The way you collect customer details “manageable for your business”; and
  4. It suggests the Government will issue further guidance to the sector on this particular point.

It goes without saying that we should all do what we can to stop the coronavirus spreading and so, whilst the guidance states “you should”, there will be a clear expectation on licence holders to implement measures to comply with the guidance on recording details.

What details should you collect?

You need to be mindful of your data protection duties (that I will discuss in more detail below).  As a general rule, you should limit the personal data you collect about people to the absolute minimum that is necessary to fulfil the requirement. 

In this case, and in the absence of any specific details, the following details should be recorded:

  • Full name(s)
  • Contact number(s)
  • Date; and
  • If practical, the time customers arrived at your venue.

How could you collect this information?

As stated above, there is no specific guidance on how you might record details about your customers. 

On the one hand, there is recognition that many licensed premises, mostly restaurants, already have booking systems in place that will do the job.

Booking services however do not naturally form part of the operation of other licences venues such as pubs and bars.  For these types of licensed venues, they will need to look at a technological solution or revert to manual systems.  We have heard of some pubs and restaurants planning to use daily envelopes with all the customers’ details for a specific day.   

Data protection considerations

You need to remember that as a business, you must ensure you can comply with your duties under the Data Protection Act and GDPR.

The practical data protection considerations to bear in mind are:

  1. Keep the personal data you collect to a minimum;
  2. Make sure you only keep it for as long as necessary;
  3. You must store customer’s personal information in a secure way and also dispose of this information securely;
  4. You will need to revisit your privacy statements to ensure you reflect any necessary changes in your privacy statement. You will, for example, need to tell people that you may share their personal information with public health officials.

Stephen McCaffrey

Regulatory defence barrister specialising in alcohol and entertainment licensing law, appeals and defence.

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