The new NHS COVID-19 app is available to us all from today (Thursday 24 September). It’s free to download, and it’s got some clever features.
It’s to support the NHS Test and Trace service, so its major benefit to the public is in helping to trace people quicker when they’ve been in proximity with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus. That way, they can be advised even sooner to self-isolate and take any other appropriate steps.
Up until now, lots of businesses – pubs, restaurants, cafes, leisure facilities, and others – have needed to keep a record of people who come in, with their contact details. That’s to help the NHS Test and Trace service trace people who may have come close to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
From today those same venues have to collect that data by displaying a QR code poster at their entrances. If you’ve downloaded the free NHS COVID-19 app to your phone, you can show your phone to the venue’s QR code poster, and it makes a record of your visit on your phone. The record is kept on your phone for a few weeks.
Your phone will alert you if you’ve recently been to a venue where there’s been a person who has tested positive, and the message will give you advice on what steps you need to take next, based on the level of risk.
If you do not have a smartphone to download the app to, or you choose not to download the app, those venues will also be using their own manual system to collate contact details.