NHS Covid app users get 'test' message telling them to self-isolate

New NHS Covid app farce as some users receive message telling them to self-isolate only for it to turn out to be an unannounced TEST

  • Users said they were forced to wrongly self-isolate after receiving the alert 
  • However, it later emerged that the notification had only been a test message 
  • Users claim that test and trace staff also had no idea about the test notification 

The coronavirus test and trace app has come under fire once again after Britons received messages telling them to self-isolate – only to find out the alert was an unannounced test. 

Users reported receiving a message telling them to self-isolate because they had been in contact with a person who tested positive. 

The message read: ‘Possible COVID-19 exposure. Someone you were near reported having COVID-19. exposure date, duration and signal strength have been saved.’

However, when they clicked on the app, the notification disappeared. 

The government has confirmed the message was a test, though users were not informed of that at the time.  

One furious man, Maurice Leaver, hit out at the farce and said he had been forced to wrongly self-isolate after receiving the message. 

Others claimed that test and trace workers had also been unaware the app had been sending out test messages. 

The NHS Covid-19 app was rolled out across England and Wales last Thursday, using Bluetooth technology in smartphones to keep an anonymous log of people an individual comes into close contact with. 

However, it has been plagued with problems, with thousands of users blocked from logging their positive tests and confusion over whether police officers should download the app. 

Close contact broadly means being within two metres of a person for at least 15 minutes.

According to Health Secretary Matt Hancock, the app was downloaded 12.4 million times by midday on Monday.

Northern Ireland and Scotland have their own contact tracing apps, which were launched at earlier dates.

The infection tracing software has been plagued with problems with the latest fiasco seeing up to 70,000 users blocked from logging their positive test results.

At first, anyone who was tested in an NHS hospital, Public Health England lab or as part of an Office for National Statistics survey could not upload their result.

Pictured bottom is the test message that users received. Top is the actual alert if someone near you has tested positive

One furious man, Maurice Leaver, hit out at the farce and said he had been forced to wrongly self-isolate after receiving the message

One of the key features of the app is that it enables people to scan their phones using QR codes in hospitality venues, so they can be alerted if there is an outbreak linked to that site.

The app has been hit with several problems.  

Middle-aged customers reported being ‘humiliated’ by ‘app disciples’ at pubs and restaurants banning them from going in without the NHS Covid-19 app – despite government rules saying it is not compulsory. 

The infection tracing software has been used as an excuse for refusing entry to older drinkers and eaters without it downloaded onto their phones.

This is despite the government’s own guidance stating it should not be a precondition of entry. 

The rules only tell businesses they ‘must’ display the ‘official NHS QR poster’ and apply for a code to be connected to the app. 

But customers without the special phone system should still be allowed in as long as they supply their contact details in some form.

Mark Sevia, from Nottingham, told MailOnline he and his group had been refused entry at three venues for not having the app.

He said: ‘One venue allowed us in with a paper form but after an hour’s wait without any service we moved on.

‘We were welcomed at our third choice and allowed to take a table after filling in the paper form.

‘Almost as soon as we sat down the manager descended on us and pointed out the App sticker on the wall.

‘On asking for proof of the legality of his refusal he backed down muttering about protecting his staff.

‘Having reluctantly parted with too much money we decided to eat and drink at home for the foreseeable future.

‘All three of the app disciples were young and arrogant and could not understand why this was such a challenge for older people. To be refused was bad enough but public humiliation was worse.’

Middle-aged customers are being ‘humiliated’ by ‘app disciples’ at pubs over the software

Pubs and restaurants have started turning away customers who don’t have the app

Stroke victim Derek Hudson said he was turned away from his coffee shop because he did not have the app.

He said: ‘I was refused service at a branch in my local supermarket.

‘What was most annoying was that I am recovering from a stroke and needed to rest for a few moments.’

The infection tracing software has been plagued with problems with the latest fiasco seeing up to 70,000 users blocked from logging their test results. 

Yesterday mother-of-two Clare Wakelam, 47, said she and two others had been due to go for lunch at Turtle Bay in Birmingham, West Mids, but was turned away when they did not all have the app.

The local authority worker from Walsall said she happily provided her contact details but thought the phone software would cause too many issues.

She told MailOnline: ‘When it was our turn the person at the door unless we all downloaded the app we couldn’t enter the establishment.

‘We went to a pub and we walked in fine and wrote our name and number down. 

Brits have encountered problems using the tracing app, while others who refuse to install it say they have been denied entry into pubs and restaurants

Law and orders: Do you really need the trace app to buy a drink? 

Government rules on the track and trace app say you do not need to have it to be allowed into pubs and venues.

But customers without it do need to provide their contact details in another way to staff.

If they refuse then they can be barred from going into the bar or restaurant.

Pubs also have to follow the rules of the Licensing Act 2003.

Licensees do have the right to refuse entry to people, but it cannot be unlawful – sexuality, race, or religion are among features that cannot be used to stop customers coming in.

It does say they can refuse entry to people on grounds of ‘public safety’ but if customers did provide some contact details it would be difficult to justify on this point.  

‘If Turtle Bay had just asked for our details we would have handed it over happily, I’ve done it everywhere else I’ve been.

‘I won’t download the app because I’m thinking it will cause too much trouble with how it alerts you and how sensitive it is.

‘With the app I think about older people who haven’t got phones like that so can’t get it. I also think what if the battery goes or the data allowance is used up – there are things that can go wrong.

‘I think it’s wrong that businesses are turning people away for things like this. I won’t be going back.’

Turtle Bay’s website spells out customers have to download the app, adding ‘We now need to ask everyone entering our restaurants to enter their contact details on the NHS Covid-19 App when they arrive. 

One customer wrote on Twitter: ‘I have today been refused entry into two establishments {a cafe and a pub} because I haven’t downloaded the NHS track and trace app!! Is this right?’ 

Another said: ‘Last night I was denied a meal because I didn’t have a Gvt phone app!!!!  

‘You may think I’m being over dramatic but you must now get the point. What else are we soon going to be denied access to unless we have a government phone app. Please, please, please people wake up.’

One user, Chloe James, wrote: ‘I’m in a pub and apparently they’ve been told they can’t serve anyone unless they have the track and trace app.’

The Government’s guidance on the app say that not having it is not a reason for venues to refuse entry, as long as they give their contact details.

But places like pubs could use the excuse of licensing regulations as a reason to stop people coming in, citing public safety. 

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