Mandatory contact tracing 'reality for our industry'

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Critical importance: the BII, BBPA and UKHospitality have written an open letter to the hospitality sector
Critical importance: the BII, BBPA and UKHospitality have written an open letter to the hospitality sector

Related tags: Coronavirus

A trio of trade bodies representing the pub sector have written an open letter to operators on the “critical importance” of engaging customers in data collection for NHS Test and Trace.

The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII), British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) and UKHospitality outlined the need for hospitality businesses and customers to work together to enforce Covid secure measures.

The letter focuses on the importance of taking and storing of contact details in the event a connection between a site and a Covid-19 incident is made. 

It comes as contact tracing in venues has hit the headlines in recent weeks. Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham, alongside several pub groups, issued a joint statement asking for the public’s cooperation in aiding NHS Test & Trace.

The sector has also pushed back against reports that there are many venues not following the guidance​, after a Sky News undercover investigation in an area of Greater Manchester found nine in tens pubs did not ask or press customers to give their details.

The letter asks pubs to check customers are adhering to social distancing guidelines, which state no more than two households may gather together inside and no more than six households can socialise in a group outdoors.

The letter states: “Whilst venues cannot categorically know this to be true, the responsibility remains with us as businesses to ask those questions, limit table sizes and understand the consequences for those not adhering to the guidance.”

Ask questions

The bodies suggest that contact tracing could be made mandatory for businesses in England shortly.

“As always, the majority are playing their part, but with recent reports of hospitality venues not asking for these basic details on arrival, the reality for our industry is that these guidelines will be significantly strengthened and may soon become mandatory in England, as with Wales and Scotland. Not explicitly delivering these requirements, will increasingly lead to a real risk of significant business disruption,” the letter reads.

A spokesperson for the trade bodies said: “We know that the majority of pubs and restaurants are managing their Test & Trace processes well, despite the challenging times they are operating in. It is imperative that we as a sector are consistent in our approach to asking for contact information, and making customers aware that they can only book tables for a maximum of 2 households when seated inside.

“All three trade bodies are offering guidance for their members, providing the information and support required to enable them to play their part in keeping their staff and customers safe.”

The critical importance of engaging our customers in Covid secure practices: An open letter to the pub sector

The letter in full:

The impact of Covid-19 on the hospitality industry has been dramatic and far reaching. When we closed our doors in March, we had no idea how, or indeed if, we would weather this storm. Since then, together with other key industry bodies we have collaborated to ensure the collective voices and challenges of those we represent were taken to Government, leaving them in no doubt about the full impact of the pandemic on our sector and the support therefore required to sustain pubs through this period. 

We believe that your hard work and dedication in ensuring you have reopened your businesses safely, both for your team members and your customers, along with the support packages that have been secured, has enabled a positive and welcome return to trading for the majority of pubs in recent weeks.

We have all independently surveyed our members to ensure we are aware of the challenges facing you at every stage, and we therefore know that one of the most important factors impacting business survival during this period continues to be Consumer Confidence. The Eat Out to Help Out (EOTHO) scheme has therefore been a real boost in encouraging nervous consumers to visit pubs and restaurants where they may have otherwise stayed at home.

Report data taken from the Yumpingo and CGA campaign “We hear you”, reveals that nearly 80% of consumers make their choice about which venue they will visit, based on the precautionary Covid-19 measures those businesses have put in place. Initial nervousness about venturing out to eat and drink is decreasing, with also 40% of customers visiting venues completely new to them.  Engaging customers with clear communication on new layouts and ways of working is at the heart of their confidence and unfortunately some businesses are not hitting the expectations of their customers.

In the Customer Sentiment Tracker produced by KAM Media in association with Feed It Back, there has been a small but steady decline in the satisfaction felt by customers since reopening. Some venues however, continue to score very highly, showing that the right approach is winning consumers over. With initial confidence dwindling however, those not doing everything they can to reassure their customers with Covid-19 measures, could stand to lose out to those who are.

Proactively engaging all of your customers in our venues’ new ways of working has now clearly become a business critical issue.  Without high levels of customer confidence supporting trade now and critically building momentum moving forward, we will not see the ongoing revenues that will be needed to sustain many of our venues. 

Test & Trace is a key part of this. The vast majority of consumers are willing to give their contact details, yet there remains considerable variation from business to business around the procedures for how these details are taken.  A robust procedure, not only enables the NHS to identify and quickly limit the spread of any Covid-19 outbreaks, but is also essential in underpinning continued consumer confidence in hospitality as a sector.

With face coverings mandatory in all other public areas from galleries and museums through to shops and public transport, it is vital that we play our part in keeping our customers safe with a specific emphasis on not only collecting customer details, but also ensuring that we only take bookings for a maximum of two households when seated indoors.  

Whilst venues cannot categorically know this to be true, the responsibility remains with us as businesses to ask those questions, limit table sizes and understand the consequences for those not adhering to the guidance.  As always, the majority are playing their part, but with recent reports of hospitality venues not asking for these basic details on arrival, the reality for our industry is that these guidelines will be significantly strengthened and may soon become mandatory in England, as with Wales and Scotland. Not explicitly delivering these requirements, will increasingly lead to a real risk of significant business disruption.

We recognise the many challenges that you are all facing and we are all here to fully support our members through this challenging period.  At the heart of a successful recovery will be our collective ability to meet the expectations of our customers, both now and into the future, ensuring that we have sustainable businesses, providing the fantastic hospitality experience that we deliver so well.

Related topics: Legislation

Related news

Show more

Spotlight

Follow us

Pub Trade Guides

View more

FREE EMAIL NEWSLETTER

Subscribe to The Morning Advertiser

The definitive voice for the pub trade

Get the latest news, analysis and insights from the uk pub sector straight to your inbox!