Date confirmed for launch of NHS tracing app - this is when it will become available in England

The NHS Covid-19 app is to be launched across England and Wales later in September, with businesses urged to have codes ready for customers to check in.

Friday, 11th September 2020, 2:35 pm

The Department of Health and Social Care said trials carried out in August show the app is “highly effective when used alongside traditional contact tracing” to identify contacts of people who have tested positive for coronavirus.

It is due to launch across both countries on Thursday, September 24, the department said.

The app, which uses bluetooth to keep an anonymous log of those in close proximity, has been plagued by problems and delays.

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The NHS Covid-19 app on a mobile phone. Picture Scott D'Arcy/PA Wire

The first version, an NHSX app, was trialled on the Isle of Wight with a view to it being rolled out more widely across the country back in May.

But by June the Government abandoned plans for its own app, instead allowing Apple and Google to take over the project.

The latest version has been also been trialled on the Isle of Wight, in the London Borough of Newham and among NHS Volunteer Responders.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock said: “We need to use every tool at our disposal to control the spread of the virus including cutting-edge technology.

Department of Health and Social Care undated handout screenshot of the NHS Covid-19 app. Picture: Department of Health and Social Care /PA Wire.

“The launch of the app later this month across England and Wales is a defining moment and will aid our ability to contain the virus at a critical time.”

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He said hospitality businesses can download posters allowing customers to scan QR codes, describing it as “an easy and simple way to collect contact details to support the NHS Test and Trace system”.

The department said businesses who are already using their own QR system are being encouraged to switch to the NHS Test and Trace QR code.

It added that an alternative check-in method will be required to collect the contact details of those who do not have the app, suggesting a handwritten register.

Kate Nicholls, from UK Hospitality, also urged businesses to download the QR posters to support the roll-out of the app.

She added: “Hospitality has been at the forefront of Test and Trace, so we were keen to work closely with Government to optimise the app’s functionality and ease of implementation for hospitality businesses.”

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