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Do B.C. bars and restaurants have to collect customers' contact information for COVID-19 contact tracing?

Last Updated Jun 18, 2020 at 9:58 am PDT

(BrianAJackson/iStock) (BrianAJackson/iStock)
Summary

B.C. restaurants told to collect contact info if they already take names 'in the ordinary course of business'

WorkSafeBC says it's taking an educational approach to enforcing COVID-19 workplace rules

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Question:

“Is it mandatory for restaurants to keep a record of customers’ names and phone numbers for contact tracing? I’ve only seen a minimal amount of restaurants follow that protocol so far.”

Answer:

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry’s latest order to eating and drinking establishments does not strictly require all of them to collect everyone’s contact information.

It says businesses that “in the ordinary course of business” collect information for seating or reservations must record the name and number of one person from each party and hold onto the information for 30 days.

That contact information can then be used to track down anyone who may have come into contact with a COVID-19 carrier at that establishment.

A previous order said restaurants, cafes and bars had to hold onto contact information “if practicable.”

The Ministry of Health did not answer questions about the change in wording.

A spokesperson for B.C.’s information and privacy commissioner said the change was not made due to privacy concerns.

“The update to the order was simply a change in wording to clarify the original intent, and not a change in process or to the meaning of the original order,” the spokesperson said.

Asked about privacy concerns in May, Health Minister Adrian Dix said taking diners’ contact information was “not a question of rights, but a question of our obligation to one another as human beings in an extraordinarily difficult time.”

WorkSafeBC, which is tasked with enforcing the health officers’ workplace orders, has done more than 800 inspections of restaurants, pubs and cafes for COVID-19 safety plans and protocols, a spokesperson said.

“Our approach has been to consult and educate employers in the restaurant industry to help them with their COVID-19 safety plan and ensure they are assessing risks to workers and implementing measures to prevent the transmission of COVID-19 in the workplace,” the spokesperson said.

“Enforcement measures will be considered if employers are not taking measures to protect workers from COVID-19 exposure. WorkSafeBC has issued five orders to date.

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