Coronavirus: ‘illegal’ to make client registers mandatory in bars and restaurants
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    Coronavirus: ‘illegal’ to make client registers mandatory in bars and restaurants

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    Ordering coffee and restaurant owners to keep a register of their customers to facilitate potential contact tracing would be illegal, a federal minister said Wednesday.

    “It would be illegal to go through with it,” Middle Class and SMEs Minister Denis Ducarme said in an interview with RTL.

    Ducarme was referring to a recently floated proposal to have owners and staff in food and drink establishments keep track of their customer’s contact data in case a contact tracing procedure became necessary.

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    While he declined to go into detail ahead of the NSC meeting, he made it clear that making the collection of customer information mandatory would breach data protection laws.

    His comments come ahead of a National Security Council meeting on Wednesday during which authorities are largely expected to give the green light for the reopening of bars, restaurants and cafes from 8 June.

    “I consulted with data protection authorities who confirmed that the proposal would be illegal and that it can therefore not be made mandatory,” he said, also citing the EU’s flagship data protection law, the GDPR.

    Aside from lacking a legal basis, Ducarme also pointed out the practical difficulties in requiring servers and other staff members to keep tabs on their customers.

    Nearly three months into the lockdown, the food and drink industry has been badly hit by the lockdown, with a study last week revealing that half of businesses feared going bankrupt.

    Gabriela Galindo
    The Brussels Times