CORONAVIRUS: New service to enable faster contact tracing of COVID-19 cases

Barber Paddy Quinn –  you can check in at close contact services, including hairdressers, barbers, beauticians, tattooists, sports and massage therapists. Picture by Bill Heaney

By Lucy Ashton

A new digital service to support businesses in collecting contact details for contact tracing purposes, Check in Scotland, is now available in participating venues.

More than 6,400 venues have so far signed up to use this voluntary service for businesses in Scotland, supporting them to effectively collect the contact details of their visitors and customers.

The Check in Scotland service will enable people to quickly and securely provide their contact details by scanning the official Test & Protect Check in Scotland QR code poster via their smartphone camera or by downloading the Check in Scotland app.

Any contact details collected will be held in a secure, encrypted data store unique to each venue for 21 days. Unless information is requested by public health officials as part of their contact tracing efforts, visitor data is automatically deleted on day 22. Venue and visitor details will not be used for any other purpose.

Businesses that can use Check in Scotland include:

  • pubs, bars, restaurants and cafes
  • tourism and leisure businesses, such as theme parks, museums and cinemas
  • close contact services, including hairdressers, barbers, beauticians, tattooists, sports and massage therapists
  • services run by local councils, such as libraries, leisure centres and registration offices
  • cremation authorities, burial authorities, places of worship or funeral director service rooms offering funeral services
  • places of worship

Chief Medical Officer Dr Gregor Smith, left,  said:  “As travel, retail and hospitality restrictions begin to ease and venues start to re-open, it’s vital that any close contacts of new positive cases can be quickly contacted and given advice to self-isolate.

“Check in Scotland is designed to give businesses an easy way to collect contact details from customers for contact tracing purposes. It is entirely voluntary and up to individual venues to decide what method they prefer to use to collect the required contact details.

“Together with the Protect Scotland app, Check in Scotland will help contact tracers reach people faster if there are coronavirus (COVID-19) cases linked to a venue they have recently visited.

“The faster we can contact people who might have been exposed to COVID-19, the faster we can stop the spread of the virus, and keep moving towards the return of everyday activities.”

Alerts will be sent by SMS, email or letter depending on what details users provide and will be clearly marked as being from NHS Scotland Test and Protect.

The Check In Scotland service is designed to complement the separate Protect Scotland app, which alerts users if they have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

People will only be advised to self-isolate if contact tracers believe they were in close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. Otherwise they may be advised to watch out for symptoms of COVID-19, and to book a test only if they or someone in their household displays symptoms.

For more information, go to: mygov.scot/help-qr-check-in

The Check In Scotland app is available to download for free via the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store for anyone over the age of 12.

To use the Check In Scotland service, you need to be able to access the internet on a phone or tablet. The service has been designed to work across the vast majority of mobile phones that support browsing the internet.

For older phones that cannot read QR codes, you can download QR code reading apps. If you cannot scan a Check In Scotland QR code, a short URL is printed on Check In Scotland posters that can be typed into your phone’s internet browser.

If you do not have a mobile phone or cannot access the internet, the business or venue you’ve visiting must take your contact details using a pen and paper.

Places you can check in include pubs and restaurants like The Glencairn Lounge in Bridge Street, Dumbarton, where mine host Tam Murray is pictured here with Labour parliamentary election candidates Jackie Baillie and Neil Bibby.

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