Parliament 'risks £1k fine if it fails to take bar customers' contact info'September 30, 2020
PARLIAMENT could be fined £1,000 for not forcing customers at its bars and canteens to hand over contact details, it was claimed.
All eateries in England are now supposed to refuse entry to anyone who doesn’t check in with the NHS app or write down their name and phone number, so they can be traced if there’s a coronavirus outbreak.
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But the strict covid law is not being followed at the many grand dining rooms, cafes and canteens used by MPs and peers.
Instead, the code posters are only being displayed at the entrances to the sprawling Parliamentary estate and at the gift shop by Westminster tube station – while those who don’t hand over details are not being barred.
It comes after House of Commons bars dodged the 10pm curfew that hit every pub in the country, until a hasty U-turn in the face of public anger.
Silkie Carlo of civil liberties group Big Brother Watch blasted: “It beggars belief that Parliament, where our laws are made, is in breach of the law on contact tracing.
"It seems to be one rule for them and a trillion rules for us.” The confusion comes from the Department of Health introducing two different levels of rules for venues in England earlier this month.
The basic requirements on everywhere from village halls and libraries to casinos and tattooists are that they must ‘ask all customers and visitors to provide contact details’, and ‘display an official NHS QR code poster so that customers and visitors can scan the QR code using their NHS Covid-19 App’, according to the explanation of the law published by Parliament.
But the rules are more strict for anywhere serving food and drink, including workplace canteens, because of the increased risk of infection where people are sitting close together and not wearing masks.
Hospitality venues are told that they must ‘deny entry to customers and visitors who do not provide this information’.
Anyone found to have breached the rules will be hit with a £1,000 fine, reduced to £500 if they pay up quickly.
As a result, some experts believe that Parliament should be requiring contact details at all of its cafes and bars, rather than just at the main doors to the estate.
The House of Commons said: "The Parliamentary Estate fully supports the NHS contact tracing app, with QR codes displayed at entrances to the Estate as well as at the external shop.
"Furthermore, the Parliamentary Estate is a secure, pass-accessed workplace, which means we have a record and details of all passholders on site if needed, to aid in contact tracing."
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