Drinkers at pubs and bars in England may have to leave their names and contact details in a guest book so they can be swiftly traced if they come into contact with a punter who tests positive for coronavirus.
Officials are understood to be looking at the measure in order to fulfil the ambition of reopening the hospitality sector as early as July 4 and aid the NHS test and trace programme.
Diners leaving their contact details at restaurants when making reservations could also play a role in helping tracers track down possible cases so they can self-isolate for 14 days.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Sunday that no decision on the guest books had been made but said it was being considered, as well as customers being encouraged to order drinks through apps.
“That’s the sort of thing we’re looking at for how do you make it safe to open things,” he told Sky’s Sophy Ridge on Sunday.
“And things like wearing a face mask which reduces the transmission clearly, about how the seating is arranged because face to face is much more dangerous than back to back and there’s more transmission than side to side.”
The proposal would enhance contact tracers’ ability to track down individuals who an infected person has come into contact with in order to isolate them and prevent further infections.
“This is something they’ve done in New Zealand and what happens is you simply ensure that when you take a restaurant booking, for instance, when somebody tests positive and have been in that venue in proximity you will be able to contact the people who might be at risk,” Mr Hancock added on The Andrew Marr Show on the BBC.
Related: Government ‘asleep at the wheel’ over plans to reopen schools, says Labour