England and Wales’ contact tracing app will soon ask users to share details of venues they have checked in to, if they test positive for the coronavirus.
The update to the NHS Covid-19 app will be deployed ahead of shops reopening in both nations on 12 April, as well as outdoor hospitality in England.
The authorities will be able to use the information to tell other visitors if they need to be tested for the virus.
But the system has been designed to protect users’ anonymity.
“The app has been designed with user privacy in mind, so it tracks the virus not people, and uses the latest in data security technology to protect privacy,” said a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Social Care.
Until now, the QR barcode-scanning facility only came into use if local authorities themselves flagged a location as being a virus hotspot by other means.
This would trigger a process whereby each phone could check if it had been at one of the affected venues on the dates concerned, and send the owner an alert.