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Washington state has walked back its requirement that restaurants keep a “daily log” of customers when they reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic, less than a week after Gov. Jay Inslee issued the controversial order.
Inslee’s office released a statement Friday “to clarify” that customers would no longer be required to provide restaurants with their contact information as part of the state’s Phase 2 plan for reopening.
Instead, customers may voluntarily give their information for the business’ log.
“We are asking visitors to voluntarily provide contact information in case of COVID-19 exposure,” Inslee said in a statement. “We only need information for one person per household. If we learn you may have been exposed to COVID-19 during your visit, the information will only be shared with public health officials.”
“They will contact you to explain the risk, answer questions and provide resources,” he continued. “This information will not be used for any other purpose, including sales or marketing. If this list is not used within 30 days, it will be destroyed.”
While the initial guideline stated the requirement to log the name, contact information, and time of the visit of each guest who entered the business was to aid in contact tracing, the data collection method drew fierce criticism.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington called the method a risk “to people’s fundamental rights to privacy and association,” while some restaurant owners worried that customers may refuse to provide information and become belligerent if their data is logged, the Seattle Times reported.
Washington’s restaurant industry resumed service in a limited capacity last week as part of Phase 2 of the state’s “Safe Start” plan. Restrictions included no more than five guests per table, at least 6 feet of distance between tables, and 50 percent reduced occupancy indoors.
As of Friday, the state health department reported at least 18,288 confirmed coronavirus cases and 1,000 deaths.