Dr Lisa Thorley By: Dr Lisa Thorley
Teaching Fellow- Global Development
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10 Jul 2020 : Track and trace- mixed messages for collecting our data.

England allowed the majority of hospitality sector to open on Jul 4th, the stampede that had been anticipated didn’t happen, for the best part people kept away, or if they did venture out they respected social distancing (the scenes from Soho excluded of course, but hey, they’re young so they’re going to be fine!).

I’m the sort of person, like many who likes to eat out, I also like the pub/a bar, so though I was nervous, I gave it a go. My family and I went to a local café for brunch. The visit wasn’t planned, we simply realised that it was open and thought, hey let’s get brunch. There wasn’t anyone else in there, so we took our first steps back to ‘normality’. The place was clean as it always is, our usual waitress was there (I was pleased to see her there as I was unsure if she’d have managed to keep her job) decked out in PPE. Though strange to see her wearing a mask, it made me feel safer. Just to note, my family and I are amongst the few English people who actually wear masks and appreciate why we should wear them. Do we get looks, of course we do, do I care what people think, absolutely not.  I couldn’t give a fuck. Going back to the visit to the café, it was actually a pleasant experience, she took our details, (which I thought was going to happen, after all this is what the Gov published on July 2nd: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/public-asked-to-leave-a-name-and-number-with-venues-to-help-stop-the-spread-of-covid-19)  the tables were spaced out enough, so there was a good distance between our table and the nearest table to us, perfect.  We were fed, they were paid, a perfect transaction. I only hope that the business survives.

Now this is where is gets tricky. I thought businesses needed to take our info so that if there was an issue with someone testing positive for Covid we could be contacted, after all, the virus hasn’t gone anywhere and we need to track, trace and isolate. Alas this simple isn’t the case. And it’s now going to be a serious issue for my family and I.  My partner and I decided to try our local pub yesterday evening, we were both cautions, after all a pub is very different to a café. However, it’s a great pub and it’s been a while. When we arrived, we were greeted and told to take a seat, now this is where it started to feel uncomfortable, the layout of the pub didn’t look much different to what it did before. It felt claustrophobic and people ‘heavy’. What should have been a relaxing experience simply wasn’t. We found a table and huddled into a corner.  No one asked for our contact details and the waitress who came to ask for our order wasn’t wearing a mask, (I was, my partner wasn’t) there was however some info about what they were doing as a business to minimise risk. If the Gov want things to go back to some sort of normal, then they need to up their game. People, and by people, I mean the sensible people who realise how serious this illness is, will only spend their cash in pubs, bars, cafés etc if they feel safe, well at least as safe as you can be in these current times. I didn’t feel safe and I was pissed off that we weren’t asked to provide our contact details and that the waistress wasn’t wearing a mask. Don’t get me wrong I’m aware that there are issues with data protection, but this is serious. We we’re within a meter plus of 7 people at various times during the hour that we were in the pub, and anyone of them could have been asymptomatic. This is a serious problem. How can we try and slow down a virus if we aren’t tracking and tracing it? The answer is, we simply can’t. I don’t know why our details weren’t taken and I don’t know why the waitress wasn’t wearing a mask, under normal circumstances I’d have asked, but the last thing I wanted to do was to engage in conversation with someone who wasn’t wearing a mask. Again, with the masks, no one in the pub was wearing one, which given that they must be warn outside in Spain, is concerning. The messaging from this gov has been terrible. Masks should be the new norm, as too should track and trace, if it isn’t we’ve no chance.

I’ve sent an email to pub asking them about the none wearing of masks and not collecting our data, now let’s watch this space.

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