Test & Trace: Why Restaurants Need a Technological Solution

Reputation Staff Writer

The UK hospitality industry is rallying behind the government’s ‘Test & Trace’ initiative. Some of the industry’s most prominent players are poised to support the initiative as a means of driving the sector’s recovery following the national coronavirus lockdown. Does your restaurant business have the technological solutions it needs to fully support the national battle against Covid-19 and ensure the safety of customers?

Read on to discover more about ‘Test & Trace’ and its implications for the hospitality industry, including the technological solutions that could simultaneously ensure compliance and ease of use.

What is ‘Test & Trace’?

‘Test & Trace’, also known as ‘NHS Test & Trace’ and sometimes referred to as ‘Track & Trace, is an NHS and National Institute for Health Protection initiative. The initiative, introduced in May 2020, aims to help stem the spread of Covid-19. It has significant implications for UK businesses, including restaurants and other hospitality establishments, particularly where data collection is concerned. 

Challenges of ‘Test & Trace’ for restaurants and hospitality businesses

‘Test & Trace’ obligates pubs and restaurants to collect data from customers as they visit venues. Data collected typically includes the date of the visit, names, phone numbers and home addresses. As with all data collected in the UK, organisations must abide by laws and regulations set out under GDPR

Under normal circumstances, GDPR presents challenges and restrictions to business’ data collection practices but ‘Test & Trace’ places additional strains upon firms as they scramble to implement procedures to comply with the government’s regulations. 

Forced to act hastily, while focusing on recovery from lockdown closures, hospitality businesses face the possibility of dropping the ball where data protection is concerned. Doing so could land restaurateurs in hot water with the authorities; thus, it is wise to implement robust systems to ensure best practices across locations.

General Best Practices for ‘Test & Trace’

Big Hospitality, a leading publication for the UK’s hospitality industry, outlines numerous steps to ensure compliance with laws around data protection:

  • Don’t collect too much information.

Establishments should only seek to collect the minimum number of details required for ‘test and trace’. Name, phone number, address and the date and time of the booking should be sufficient.

  • Explain why you’re collecting customer information

Make it explicit to all customers the reasons for data collection. Explain what you intend to do with the data and don’t do anything with the information other than what you said you would do.

  • Secure the information

It is critical that the data collected can not be viewed or collected and stored by others. 

  • Limit how long you store data

Businesses need only keep temporary records for contact tracing purposes for 21 days. Data should not be kept for longer than this period.

  • Take care when deleting data.

As much care should be taken with deleting customer details as with collection and storage. Paper records, which are not the optimal method of data storage, should not simply be thrown in the bin where light-fingered individuals with prying eyes could obtain the information.

  • Simplify processes

The entire process of collecting, storing and disposing of data should be as simple as possible so that measures can be rolled out across locations efficiently and your staff appropriately trained. The more laborious and cumbersome the processes, the more likely it is that your company will fall foul of the law, so simplicity is critical.

Pitfalls of ‘Test & Trace’ data collection at restaurants

There are numerous potential pitfalls for restaurants and pubs collecting data for ‘Test & Trace’. 

For instance, some establishments may fail to appropriately notify customers of the reason for the collection of their details as they assume that customers know why they’re handing their personal information to restaurant staff.

Other establishments will blur the line between collecting data for ‘Test & Trace’ purposes and marketing purposes. Some may even fail to secure the data sufficiently and keep it for far too long before improperly deleting the information. 

Media reports of failings in hospitality establishments’ data processing procedures are already emerging. Among the most shocking, was a young woman’s announcement that a barman made an unsolicited approach to her on social media after she’d visited the pub where he was working. 

Clearly, the pub’s management may need to review their data collection processes, security and staff training to ensure that abuse of ‘test & trace’ does not take place. 

Technological Solutions for ‘Test & Trace’ Data Processing

Fear not! Digital technology could assist you in avoiding GDPR pitfalls and even enable you to add a layer of safety for your staff and your customers. 

Digital solutions such as Reputation.com provide myriad benefits to hospitality establishments and their customers while ‘test and trace’ remains in effect. For instance:

  • Enables contactless data collection

Pubs and restaurants use the Reputation.com platform to present web links or QR codes to guests to access digital forms on their personal mobile devices where they can input their details. This improves hygiene by eliminating the need for shared pens and paper forms which can become a hotbed for pathogens such as Covid-19. A digital form also allows for a date and time stamp to be automatically collected upon the recording of the information.

  • Secures Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

Make sure you use a platform like ours that offers high levels of encryption to protect and secure PII to enable staff on the ground in your pubs and restaurants to collect data while providing customers peace of mind that their PII is safe. With our platform, only your most trusted GDPR experts and data protection gurus can access the information so your company name need not be sullied by ‘test & trace’ abuses.

  • Automatically and securely deletes data.

Users of our platform can rest assured that customer details will be deleted securely and automatically after a user-specified period. No more would you have to worry about those paper forms in a waste bin somewhere or those files on your computer falling into the wrong hands.

Smiling shop owner standing at the entrance to her shop.

The right technology can enable restaurants to comply with GDPR and support health and safety during ‘Test & Trace’ initiatives.


‘Test & Trace’ is never far from controversy in the media. Still, regardless of this, hospitality businesses must implement robust technological solutions to ensure adherence to GDPR laws. 

Reputation.com’s platform offers a viable, cost-effective solution to pubs and restaurants aiming for ‘Test & Trace’ competence. Through our award-winning software, hospitality companies can avoid GDPR pitfalls by securing PPI digitally and ensuring the timely and thorough deletion of customer data. Furthermore, our platform enables restaurants and pubs to enhance hygiene standards through contactless data collection. 

Business leaders in the hospitality industry ought to thoroughly understand ‘Test & Trace’ requirements and audit their company’s ability to rise to the challenges it presents. Our hospitality sector experts can assist you in assessing your business’ ability to meet ‘Test & Trace’ challenges.

Get in touch with our team to discover more or request a demo via the form below.

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