Well, that didn’t last long, did it? A couple of days after Boris Johnson’s semi-lockdown was lifted, three pubs that reopened at the weekend have had to close again after  customers tested positive for COVID-19. The Lighthouse Kitchen & Carvery in Burnham-on-Sea, The Fox & Hounds, in Batley, West Yorkshire, and The Village Home Pub in Alverstoke, Hampshire are the pubs concerned. The owners, staff and customers must be gutted, especially now because every single one of them will now be contacted and told to stay at home for 14 days. The privatised track and trace system chaired by Tory peer Dido Harding has made it clear that everyone who goes in a pub must give their name and contact details as a precondition for having a pint.

It was in the back of my mind when I decided to cancel my booking tonight in my local. I do not spend every waking hour fretting about whether I might be infected with COVID-19. In truth, I worry far more about the effect of catching the virus would have on my mental health. And I’d fret even more if, within a few weeks of visiting a boozer where someone had been infected, I was told to stay at home when I supposed to be going on holiday. Because, make no mistake, a lot of people are going to get a phone call they won’t want to get, as will all the people they’ve been in contact with at the weekend.

These are the new rules from the government:

The steps include:

  • collecting the names, and phone numbers of all staff working at the premises, as well as the date and time they worked
  • making a record of the name and contact phone number of any customers or visitors, or if it is a group of people, the name of the lead member of the group, who is able to contact other members of the group, and the number of people in the group
  • recording the date, arrival and departure time of all visitors or visiting groups
  • storing the information for 21 days, after which should be safely deleted

Given the government and its advisors’ obsession with collecting data on the population, I would not trust it with anything, let alone my private details. I might inform the bar staff that I was Dominic Cummings from Durham. But actually no. I’m an honest person and I’d have to take the rap. I’d be absolutely sick, though.

Clearly, as the end of semi-lockdown gathers pace and more and more places reopen, the virus will find plenty more opportunities to spread again. And there will be plenty more opportunities for us to catch it. Go to work, go to a shop and then go to the pub and the odds are greater you might get the call. If you were at the Lighthouse Kitchen and Carvery in Burnham this weekend, you might wish you hadn’t been. If you’d checked in advance with Trip Advisor, you’d be safe tonight because you’d probably not go there anyway.