PUB owners should be legally required to log customer details to halt the spread of Covid and keep businesses open, licensed trade officials have suggested.

Paul Waterson, official spokesman for the Scottish Licensed Trade Association (SLTA) and former Chief Executive, said the Test and Protect guideline could become mandatory and said owners should also consider refusing to serve people who fail to comply with data sharing.

The First Minister has suggested pubs could be forced to close if businesses flout guidelines including social distancing restrictions, saying pictures of weekend crowds, “made her want to cry.” Mr Waterson said he shared Nicola Sturgeon’s concerns and said the licensed trade was now in a “fragile situation.”

Anecdotal evidence suggests compliance with data collection is patchy in pubs, which should provide written forms for customers to complete personal details or scannable QR codes on tables.

One Glasgow customer said: “The crowds I saw pouring out an (east end) pub on Saturday nearly made me cry. Definitely no track and trace being reordered with those numbers. Even the one empty pub I’ve been to didn’t take details. The pubs will be the failure.”

Another said of a city centre bar:  “They had slips at the front to fill in but the staff weren’t pointing them out and I saw hardly anyone filling them in.”

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Mr Waterson, who also owns a pub in Stirling, said: “We have no evidence of that but I’m not saying it’s not happening.

“It’s very important that the authorities clamp down on people who aren’t adhering to the guidance and regulations in any sense.

“It’s not mandatory to do it but perhaps it should be mandatory. Pubs are bound by regulations, you have to ask someone their age when they come in for example and this is another one. 

“If pubs aren’t doing it then it’s up to the government to look at it. 

HeraldScotland:

“Do you serve someone who refuses to give their details? That’s up to the individual operator to decide but it’s really vital, especially as we see the situation developing in other countries where the Test and Protect is viable and for it to be viable we need to take this action.”

“You have got to rely on the pub owners being responsible but you’ve also got to rely on the customers filling out the forms properly.

“The SLTA does not support any pubs who are not adhering to all parts of the guidance.”
The Scottish Government said pubs and restaurants are required to collect minimum contact details and said this was “not yet mandated in law” suggesting it may move in this direction.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon said photos of crowds made her want to cry as she warned pubs could close

Evidence suggests restaurants may find it easier to comply with Track and Trace guidelines because they are accustomed to taking bookings for tables with customer details.

Mr Waterson said he shared the First Minister’s concern about images shared of pubs apparently flouting social distancing requirements but added:  “As far as I can see the crowding in the photographs I saw were all outside of pubs. 

“It’s very difficult to control what’s happening outside the pubs on pavements. It might not be your customers, it might be people who don’t listen to what you are telling them.

“We would agree with the First Minister that this is a very fragile situation. We are vulnerable at the moment.

“It would be very easy for more spikes to come and for businesses to be shut down again which is something that would be disastrous for everybody.

“And that is why we are saying, all the guidance must be adhered to, including Test and Protect.

“If you look at controversial situations down the years, pubs and bars are very often the barometer for what’s happening in society in general. 

“It’s still the most popular place to go and sometimes unfairly it can be looked on as being the barometer of what’s happening and that’s what’s happened in this case.

“It shows you that we must adhere to the regulations and guidelines.”

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Andy Fairgrieve, manager of the Hootenany pub in Glasgow said the bar is taking written details from customers and said staff had not experienced any resistance.

He said: "Obviously it gets more difficult if the pub is busy but everyone is keen to do it. "We've not had a single complaint."

The Scottish Conservatives have called for answers after a councillor claimed pubs in the Grampian area, where where the Hawthorn Bar was the centre of a 27-case cluster, were apparently being left to carry out their own inquiries rather than contact tracers if customers became unwell.

Mr Waterson said in response: “Pubs do not have the capacity to carry out their own inquiries because of data protection. They should not be doing this.”

A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: “Establishments such as restaurants and pubs where there may be an increased risk of transmission are required to gather minimum contact details for all customers, visitors and staff.

“This is to support Test and Protect in the event an outbreak or cluster of cases being tracked back to the premises.

“The gathering of data to support Test and Protect is not yet mandated in law – it is currently something we strongly encourage all businesses to do – but we will not hesitate to legislate if necessary.

“Businesses which fail to follow the guidance are putting the continued opening of hospitality at risk. People should report concerns relating to their local Environmental Health service which will give advice and can investigate when appropriate.

“We would also urge members of the public to avoid premises which are failing to follow the relevant guidance to provide a safe environment for patrons.”