The long-awaited NHS Test and Trace app has been rolled out today - but how exactly does it work, and how do businesses feel about it?

Who needs the app?

Hospitality businesses including pubs, restaurants, hairdressers, cinemas and churches, are being urged by the government to download QR (Quick Response) codes.  

Visitors to these venues are asked to download the NHS app on their phone, so they can scan the QR code when they enter the premises.

Anyone over 16 years old with a smartphone is encouraged to sign up to the app.

How will it work?

When someone enters a venue and scans an official QR poster, the venue information will be logged on the user’s phone for 21 days.

If during this timeframe a coronavirus outbreak is identified at a location, the customer will be contacted with public health advice via the app.

The device will check if users have been at that location and if the app finds a match, will send an alert with information based on the level of risk.

This Is Local London: NHS Covid-19 app, scanning for SW11NHS Covid-19 app, scanning for SW11

In the event of an outbreak, the app will tell people:

·       If they have been near other app users who have tested positive for coronavirus

·       If they have 'checked in' at a venue where they may have come into contact with coronavirus

·       The current level of coronavirus in their postcode

·       How to keep track of their self-isolation

How do businesses feel about it?

The Wandsworth Times went to Battersea’s bustling Northcote Road, to see how businesses were responding to the NHS app.

Newcomer to the block, East Street Kitchen, has decided to use the app, despite saying they already had a coronavirus strategy in place.

This Is Local London: New restaurant pop-up East Street Kitchen on Northcote Road New restaurant pop-up East Street Kitchen on Northcote Road

Officially opening last Friday (18 Sept), owner David Fox said the pop-up restaurant underwent strict procedures - including hiring a health and safety advisor - to open during the pandemic.

“We’ve got a set of guidelines for being Covid-safe, but Test and Trace work on a slightly different set of guidelines which don’t necessarily align with ours.

“For example, our restaurant is configured so that the tables are over a metre apart, but the app counts close contact as within two metres.”

He acknowledged that the app might be useful for identifying if members of staff are “super-spreaders”.

“Restaurants are already pretty good on hygiene – with awareness of food cleanliness and washing hands. And now staff stagger their break times and are distanced in kitchen.

“But if more than 10 people from the restaurant are found to be positive then you could work out if a member of staff is the source.”

He was wary however, that customers would be reluctant to download the app.

“What sat slightly uncomfortably with me is that I didn’t want to be in the situation of not letting someone sit down in the restaurant if they didn’t register.”

 This Is Local London: House of Beauty salon on Northcote Road House of Beauty salon on Northcote Road

Jana Poznakova, the owner of nearby salon, House of Beauty, had similar qualms.

“It might make it easier for the country to track and trace, but for us we have our records and our own guidelines we’re happy with.

“The beauty industry has always had cleaning procedures in place – now there are extra visors, screens, aprons, masks.

House of Beauty have downloaded the NHS app, though Janna is not convinced customers will take to it. 

“I hope it will help, but I can tell you 100% people will not be happy about it. They already complain filling out our forms. Sometimes they don’t leave their email, or other details."