Friday 11 September 2020 1:29 pm

Coronavirus: Contact-tracing app to launch on 24 September

The NHS coronavirus contact-tracing app will be rolled out in England and Wales on 24 September, the government confirmed today.

The app will allow people to check in at hospitality venues by scanning QR codes using their smartphone.

Read more: Coronavirus: What is the NHS contact-tracing app and how does it work?

This will allow NHS test and trace to contact customers telling them to self-isolate if there is an outbreak of Covid-19 linked to their visit.

Businesses such as pubs, restaurants, hairdressers and cinemas are being urged to ensure they have NHS QR code posters displayed on entry.

Venues that already have their own QR code system have been encouraged to switch to the official code.

However, an alternative check-in method — such as a handwritten register — must be maintained to collect the contact details of customers who do not have the app.

“The QR system is a free, easy and privacy preserving way to check-in customers to venues, and we encourage all businesses to get involved and download and display the official NHS QR code posters,” said Simon Thompson, managing director of the app.

The launch comes after months of difficulties for the app, which was first mooted in April as a key part of the government’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Read more: DEBATE: Should we be worried about the privacy issues around the contact tracing app?

The technology was trialled on the Isle of Wight in May but was dogged by difficulties and the rollout was repeatedly pushed back.

The government said ongoing trials on the Isle of Wight and in Newham showed the app was “highly effective” when used alongside traditional tracing methods.