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Some San Diego County businesses to require name, phone numbers from customers

Posted at 5:07 PM, Sep 01, 2020

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- When entering most newly reopened businesses in San Diego County, customers will need to sign in with their name and phone number.

The change only applies to businesses now offering indoor services; the county’s public health order was updated to reflect the changes now in effect for the following sectors:

  1. Hair Salons & Barbershops
  2. Personal Care Services
  3. Gyms & Fitness Centers
  4. Restaurants, Wineries, Bars, Breweries, and Distilleries that serve food.

“It’s a very modest step that can aide in our close contact investigation, and I think can help slow the spread and help these businesses stay open,” said County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher.

Many people already give their name and phone number when making a reservation at a restaurant or booking a hair appointment; this won’t look much different, just more widespread, and businesses will also keep the sign-in sheets for three weeks.

“In the event, there is an outbreak or exposure, I think most people would want to know if they’ve been exposed so they can quarantine or potentially get tested,” said Fletcher.

If a COVID-19 outbreak happens, customers who visited will be notified if they were possibly exposed. The county will not collect or save the information.

“It would only be used in the event there was a public health risk,” said Fletcher.

Fletcher said the new plan could have possibly helped with contact tracing during the last wave or reopenings.

“It’s certainly something we could have been done before, maybe a lesson learned from earlier, I think this could really aide in helping more quickly in letting folks know if they’ve been exposed," Fletcher said.

Some people may have privacy concerns and be reluctant to give their personal information.

Cybersecurity expert Ted Harrington, who is an executive partner at Independent Security Evaluators, says that while giving an email address would feel less invasive, the risk of providing a phone number and name is still minimal.

“There’s no doubt what this order is doing is giving more information for people who don’t yet have a process to safely protect it, so we should accept that is the reality of what’s happening,” said Harrington.

“But, is that a strong enough reason to not go to a restaurant or get your haircut or whatever? I wouldn’t be any more concerned than you might normally be with giving your phone number to a restaurant when you leave a reservation.”