NHS COVID-19: Jeremy Vine panellists clash over app

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Freedom Day is now a matter of hours away as England prepares to shed all of its remaining Covid rules. The Prime Minister has committed to his reopening schedule despite the rapid acceleration in local infections, which now stand at 50,000 a day and climbing. The NHS Covid app, which monitors social distancing and has people check in to venues for contact tracing purposes, isn’t going anywhere soon, however.

Do you have to use the NHS Covid app to check-in after July 19?

The NHS app has been vital in the UK’s Covid response thanks to its tracking capabilities.

At present, nearly all restaurants, bars and other hospitality settings require people to check in before sitting down.

As of tomorrow, most of the rules binding Brits living in England to the app will disappear.

While legal requirements will end, the Government will continue to encourage people to check in to venues.

Official advice posted on July 12 directing people on how to act beyond Freedom Day states businesses should continue to display the check-in QR codes.

The publication states they can also continue to collect patron details for Test and Trace.

Hospitality venues won’t need to follow other rules, as the Government pursues its “personal responsibility” strategy.

Decisions on Covid mitigation will drift to venue managers, who can impose or lift rules at their leisure.

As part of this, ministers have teased proposals to retool the Covid app.

Hundreds of thousands of people have received “pings” telling them to self-isolate over the past week as the app operated separately from the Government’s roadmap changes.

The latest data shows the app alerted 500,000 people to isolate last week, causing havoc for businesses and public services.

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Transport for London workers and employees at several private firms, Nissan among them, have had to stay at home per the app’s rules.

On July 9, transport secretary Grant Shapps said the Government wanted to “tailor” the app to alter its sensitivity.

The alteration would keep it in line with the latest social distancing rules.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman has since confirmed the app is “under constant review” and is working “as intended”.

But this hasn’t stopped people deleting or ignoring the notifications they get.

According to one public health expert, their trust in the Test and Trace system is shaking.

Allyson Pollock, a clinical professor of public health at the University of Newcastle, told the I Paper it “makes sense” to delete the app as “trust in the system has gone.”

Professor Pollock added asymptomatic testing has “resulted in a great deal of harm, not least unnecessary isolation and economic loss” with few benefits.

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