NHS app update changes track and trace ahead of pubs and restaurants reopening

The NHS Test and Trace app is changing on 8 April, with everyone in a group entering a pub and restaurant having to scan a QR code.

Previously, only one member of a group would have to scan the symbol or provide their contact details.

People who have been at a venue on the same day as other people who have tested positive for the coronavirus will also receive an alert to book a test immediately. This is regardless of whether they are or are not showing symptoms.

If a user has tested positively for the coronavirus, they will also be required to share their venue history via the app.

“The app has been designed with user privacy in mind, so it tracks the virus not people, and uses the latest in data security technology to protect privacy,” said a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Social Care, according to the BBC.

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There will be new posters displaying QR codes for hospitality venues in England, the government has said.

The posters are apparently now clearer and easier to use, with all venues in England affected by the regulations legally required to display an official NHS QR code poster.

The news comes ahead of shops and other facilities opening on 12 April, but there has been criticism over the effectiveness of the system.

While the app should send alerts to users who have been in the same venue as those with the coronavirus, the feature has apparently rarely been used despite over 100 million check-ins.

“Thousands of people” were not warned they might be at risk of infection, Sky News reported, apparently caused by “capacity issues at a local level” for the failures of the £22 billion system.

Everyone in England will also be able to access free rapid coronavirus testing from 9 April for themselves and families to use twice a week, which was previously only available for front-line staff and at-risk citizens.

“Rapid testing helps us find COVID-19 cases that we wouldn’t otherwise know about, helping to break chains of transmission. These tests are effective in detecting people that are infectious and therefore most likely to transmit infection to others. They are another tool we now have to help maintain lower infection rates”, Dr Susan Hopkins, COVID-19 Strategic Response Director at PHE and Chief Medical Adviser to NHS Test and Trace, said in a statement.

“I encourage everyone to take up the offer of these free rapid tests – they are quick and easy to carry out in your own home.”

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