NHS Test & Trace App (England and Wales)

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The NHS Test & Trace app was launched on 24 September for England and Wales. In Scotland, the Protect Scotland contact tracing app is part of the NHS Scotland Test & Protect system, and it detects other people with the app installed on their smart phone being in close proximity.

If the app detects that you have been less than two metres away for over 15 minutes from someone who later tests positive for Coronavirus, you will be alerted.

In England and Wales, the NHS Test & Trace app works in a very different way and relies on the user being able to scan a QR code which all places of worship will be expected to generate and display. The following information therefore applies only to England and Wales.

The QR code poster

All churches should generate and display an official NHS Test & Protect QR code poster from 24 September. Currently the governments in England and Wales are strongly encouraging places of worship, amongst others, to display the QR code poster (see an example of a QR code below), rather than requiring it. qr code PNG38

The United Reformed Church strongly encourages churches in England and Wales that are open for any purpose to comply with this. The poster must not be altered in any way so that it will clearly be recognisable as part of the official NHS system.

The poster must be printed at a minimum of A4 size for display on walls and at entrances, but users may if they wish enlarge it, or have additional copies printed at a smaller size (for use at a welcome table where contact tracing information is collected, for instance.) Having additional copies does not remove the responsibility to display at least one copy at A4 size or larger.

The poster may also be displayed digitally, for example on a TV screen or computer tablet.

You may print the poster in black and white or in colour, but you should print it in colour if possible. You must display the poster at every entrance to your premises, and it should be on a flat, opaque surface so that it can easily be scanned.

You should place a copy of the poster at least 130cm from the ground to the top of the poster for wheelchair users.

You should, if possible, position your poster on the left side of your front window or entrance, ensuring that it is in a visible and safe position where they cannot easily be removed.

It will not be compulsory for anyone to use the QR code, but you MUST keep contact tracing information for anyone that does not scan the code, and you may also ask anyone scanning the code to give their name and contact details so that you have a clear record of who is using your building.

Generating a poster

The poster is generated by the UK government website. You must not attempt to make your own version or customise it anyway to “brand” it for your church.

Before you start, you need an email address, a contact name with responsibility for the premises (for example, the Church Secretary or one of the other Elders), and the address for the church premises.

Go to the "Create a coronavirus NHS code for your venue" page on GOV.UK and enter your email address. A six digit code will be emailed to you immediately to verify that the email address was entered correctly.

Enter this code into the web page to proceed, then enter the name of the contact person and click the “Continue” button.

You will be asked: “What best describes the type of your business, organisation or event?” Click in the circle next to “Place of worship” then scroll down the page and click “Continue.”

On the next page, enter the name of your church – e.g. St Andrew’s United Reformed Church, Happytown – then click “Continue” again. Enter the postcode for your church then click “Find address” and select the full address from the drop-down list. If your church address isn’t listed, click the link saying “I can’t find my address in the list” and enter it manually.

Next, enter the contact email address and telephone number for the named contact, who will be contacted if there is an outbreak affecting the church premises then click on “Continue”.

On the final page take a moment to check you have entered the details correctly and used the “change” links to make any amendments. When you are satisfied that the data are correct, click “Submit”, and a link to print the generated poster will be emailed to you.

Click on that link and print as many copies as you need for the premises. You can return to that link and print more copies later if needed.

What about external user groups and lettings?

The QR Code relates to the premises, not to the group using the premises. The church is still the “venue manager” and retains overall responsibility for how the building is used and keeping it “Covid-secure.”

We recommend that best practice for all churches is to delegate the collection and retention of contact tracing information to each user group and ensure that group understands their responsibilities and agrees to operate the system for their group.

The church will need to keep a record of the group leaders, in case it becomes necessary to pass on public health information following a confirmed outbreak relating to the premises.

If the church operates with a Centre Manager who can see the Test and Trace contact details are recorded for every group, then you may or may not wish to retain that responsibility.

Many churches will still prefer to delegate that responsibility to the group leader. In the case of addiction recovery groups, for example, the importance of confidentiality cannot be over-stated and it will be far better to keep the sharing of information between the group and the church to an absolute minimum.

What happens if someone tests positive after they have been to our church?

At the time of writing there is limited information available, but the following gives the best information presently available.

Anyone using the NHS app who has checked into the premises using the QR code within a certain time frame will receive an alert. The alert will not say where the potential contact took place, just that they have recently been to a venue (which might be a shop, restaurant, workplace or somewhere else displaying their own QR code poster) where they may have come into contact with coronavirus.

That notification will also have public health advice, which might include monitoring symptoms and booking a test, calling for more information or, in certain circumstances, self-isolating.

If an outbreak is associated with a particular venue – your church – the local health protection team will contact the named person and advise on the course of action that you must now take, which might include following up others who have given their contact details outside the NHS Test & Trace app system – that is, the names and contact details you registered manually.

24 September 2020

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