NHS QR code for your property
What does this mean to me and my property?
In the week commencing 5 April, the Government updated the requirements for businesses in England opening on 12 April (including self-catering accommodation). The new rules specify businesses must ask every customer or visitor (over the age of 16) to scan the NHS QR code using their NHS COVID-19 app, or provide their name and contact details, not just a lead member of the group. This replaces the previous rules which did not require an NHS QR code poster to be displayed so long as the details of the lead booker were maintained/available.
It is the homeowner's responsibility to implement these new rules and ultimately their decision if they do or don't.
Does the requirement for an NHS QR code being displayed apply to self-catering accommodation?
The Government has listed those businesses that must display an NHS QR code. Whilst self-catering accommodation is not listed separately, the list of businesses/venues includes 'hotels and other guest accommodation provided on a commercial basis'. Our understanding is that self-catering properties fall within the definition of ‘other guest accommodation provided on a commercial basis' and as such all self-catering properties in England should display an NHS QR code.
How do I create my unique NHS QR code?
The process for creating a code is straightforward and can be done on the government website: Create an NHS QR code. Please note that if you have more than one property, you will need to create and display a separate QR code in each property.
What if I am not local to my property?
If you manage your own property but do not live locally the QR codes can be created and emailed to your housekeeper to print and place in your property on your behalf.
You manage my property, will you place the QR code in my property?
If your property is managed by ourselves, we are working to ensure QR codes are displayed in your properties for guest arrival.
Will you be contacting guests to let them know?
Yes. We will be communicating to the guests in our pre-arrival email and text message to inform them of their responsibilities prior to arrival. The following information (which mirrors what we shall be sending to guests) has been added to our Covid frequently asked question page on our websites:
"As part of the Government’s measures to mitigate the risk Covid-19, there is a requirement for certain businesses in England (including self-catering properties) to collect data from all customers over the age of 16 for NHS Test and Trace purposes. All guests over the age of 16 are legally required to provide the required information (which includes name, telephone number or email or postal address) at the start of their holiday. The easiest way of providing this information is by using the NHS COVID-19 app to scan the NHS QR poster displayed in your holiday property. In order to do this you will need to make sure all members of your party over the age of 16 have the NHS Covid-19 app downloaded on their phones, you can get help to do this here. This will ensure the property owner has the required information available to support NHS Test and Trace.
As the collection of this data is a legal requirement, failure of all guests over the age of 16 to provide the required information would mean the property owner has the legal right to refuse entry into the holiday property."
Does TOCC not already have the required information?
No, we only collect details of the lead booker. We previously collected more information, but we had to change this in response to GDPR requirements. Even if this change hadn't been forced upon us, we have never collected all the details required to comply with the new Track and Trace requirements. Further, the information required for Track and Trace is needed at the commencement of the holiday, not the time of booking. As such, even if we did collect the required information at the time of booking it would not meet the requirements as it would not be ‘live’ as at the commencement of the holiday and so would have to be collected again, effectively in real time. The QR code is the government’s answer to how this can be practically done.
Why can’t TOCC collect the required customer data on our behalf?
Unfortunately it is just not practical for us to contact all guests as we would then need to monitor responses and if they don't respond, we'd have to chase them up, potentially multiple times. Our systems are not configured to do this (and could not easily/quickly be so configured) and so it would be a manual process which given the volume of bookings affected (tens of thousands) we simply do not have the resources to undertake. Further, as per above, the requirement is for the data to be ‘live’ as at the commencement of the holiday, it simply would not be possible to for us to collect this data in ‘real time.’
As above, we will be informing guests of their responsibilities to check in to properties through text messages and our pre-arrival communication email.
What are homeowner’s responsibilities in terms of data protection (GDPR)?
If the required information is collected, but not via the QR code then homeowners must ensure that any data held is kept securely and out of sight. This data must not be used for any other purposes other than for NHS Test and Trace. For example,data collected for NHS Test and Trace must not be used for marketing purposes. Failure to do this may lead to penalty fines and enforcement action from the ICO.
Further information on the GDPR requirements can be found here: General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)
What happens if the guests are unable to scan the QR code?
If guests are unable to scan the QR code then it is recommended that the homeowner leaves a notepad to record details, to be removed at the end of the guests stay. This information must be held for 21 days by the homeowner and then destroyed.
Who will enforce the use of QR codes?
Our belief is that the enforcement of the codes will be down to local councils/environmental health who would have this under their remit. Whilst the enforcement of the codes is logistically very difficult, if the property is reported as non-compliant then there are fixed penalty financial penalties starting at £1,000.
The law states if guests refuse to use the QR code and also refuse to give the required information then they should not be admitted to the premises.