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QR codes and sign-ins – how France’s reopened restaurants keep track of customers

QR codes and sign-ins - how France's reopened restaurants keep track of customers
Entry to the interior of a bar, restaurant or café will involve scanning a QR code. Photo: Lucas Bariolet/AFP
As restaurants, bars and cafés reopen their indoor spaces, dinner or drinks inside now requires a sign-in - here's how it works.

What’s happening?

Wednesday, June 9th marks phase 3 of France’s reopening plan – the curfew moves back to 11pm, working from home is no longer be the rule and gyms and swimming pools reopened under strict health protocols.

IN DETAIL: France’s plan for reopening after lockdown

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It also means that cafés, restaurants and bars won’t have to worry about bad weather, as indoor dining is finally permitted again.

But there are questions arising as to how the French government will keep track of any Covid issues that may arise. 

How?

For large events like concerts, a ‘health passport’ will be required, where customers will have to show a code for either a vaccination certificate or a recent Covid test. 

READ ALSO How France’s health passport will work this summer

This is not required for cafés, bars, restaurants, gyms and other places deemed “everyday activities” and people can enter those without having to provide any proof of their test or vaccination status.

Instead, establishments must provide a ‘sign in’ for customers to provide their name and contact details, so that if a fellow customer or staff member later tests positive for Covid they can be traced and contacted.

This can be provided either in a paper format or by a QR code that customers can scan with a smartphone.

This does not apply to terraces, only for people eating or drinking indoors at bars, cafés or restaurants. 

How does the QR code work?

The black and white square QR codes have been widely used during the pandemic, with many restaurants replacing their menus with scannable codes to avoid cross-contamination.

For the sign-in code, first you must download the French Covid tracking app TousAntiCovid (if you have not already) which then links to a web page where you can fill in your name and contact details.

The government is urging restaurants to use these, as they are quicker and simpler to use and keep data more secure than a paper sign-in sheet which can be seen by all customers.

For people who do not have a smartphone, or don’t want to scan the code, a paper journal will be provided in order for them to leave their details. 

If an individual tests positive for Covid they should notify the Tous Anti Covid app, which will activate a code that sends an alert to people who scanned the same restaurant’s QR code on the same date. 

All data will only be stored on the individual’s phone and will be erased after two weeks.


Member comments

  1. To-date, the app on my Android-10 Fairphone3 (everything is up-to-date) hasn’t been able to scan a QR code, it keeps saying something like “invalid code”. I can scan the code using a QR-scanning app, which contacts a website and (supposedly) registers my presence, but cannot transfer that scan to the app, nor does it ever show up in the app’s wallet. On the other hand, there is (currently?) only one location in the village using a QR track-and-trace code, so there is no(?) opportunity to check with another QR code. All very frustrating!

    Any recommendations?

    1. The app has been updated since. The updated app is able to scan the QR code at a different location in the village, but still cannot handle the QR code at the first location. Still frustrating, but progress, I presume…

      1. Just a minor follow-up for completeness: Both the app itself and the QR code’s image at the problematic location have been updated (the app several times), and they now work together just fine. No idea if the problem was with the app at the time, or the QR code (or its image) at the time.

  2. Never had a problem with the app. It updates itself and provides a clear set of data.
    This is in an iPhone, my partner has a few issues on her Android phone, but nothing insurmountable

  3. It took longer to sort the app (hate that expression) out then it did to have the Janssen vaccination.

  4. Stand up for your rights? So what about your right to not have to worry about getting sick just because Francois DuPlague sitting maskless at the next table, shoulder to shoulder with his 10 friends, doesn’t want to get the vaccine because it’s too much hassle to have to look for an appointment and then go to the place and queue up (beurk) to get the injection – twice!

    And the good thing is, you don’t HAVE TO be afraid of TB any more. You know why? Because nearly everyone is vaccinated against it from childhood so it isn’t so much of a problem. Funny how that works isn’t it?

  5. Agreed. All of the people complaining here about “I don’t want to be tracked” are probably also tweeting the same thing, on their iPhone, that they bought on amazon.fr because of the next-day delivery, while on the Starbucks wifi, after scanning their loyalty card to get the points for their latte, after using their Navigo to get to the shopping center. But yeah, they don’t want to be tracked by scanning a QR code to go into the cinema/restaurant., because that”s an intrusion in their lives.

  6. Johanna,
    can you imagine the utter pointlessness and in fact, impossibility, of tracking the minutest movements of every single person all day every day? It would be like inviting a massive self-inflicted DDoS attack that would almost instantly suffocate the world’s intelligence systems.

    Governments have lists of people they want to keep an eye on. Being a human rights activist, advocate or defender is a reliable way to end up on one. Their ‘intelligence’ is usually banal and often fatuous. Over the last twenty five years I’ve been on four (that I know of). Here are some examples of their intelligenius:

    One. Subject was observed to enter the gents toilets where Julian Assange was shaving [[at a press event at the Frontline Club in London]].

    Two. Subject was seen in a military-style vehicle in the Co. Durham hometown of a journo whom the Taliban were holding hostage in Afghanistan. [[I was in my old Landie, on my way home after driving my daughter up to her new uni – this sighting brought me a visit from Special Branch, who had a cup of tea with me and my wife and left apologising for the nuisance.]]

    Three. One of the subject’s books was read by a ladies’ book group in Longford, Derbyshire who reported, “We weren’t sure whether to blush or laugh”.[[Report from private US intelligence firm Stratfor for a client, obtained and published by Wikileaks.]]

    Four. I was having dinner with an old friend in intelligence and began telling him about some of the campaigning we’d been doing. He said, “Listen _____, I have a dossier on you this thick…” “Anything I should know about?” I asked. “No,” he said, “you’re terribly boring. Let’s have another whisky.” He was of course joking. Or was he? [[His wife wouldn’t let him drink at home.]]

    Should you be worried about being tracked? Yes.

    We should all remember that our smart phones are already tracking us. And if you use Gmail, your messages are keyword-scanned by Google. If you have an Alexa AI, it listens to everything you say and squirts filtered info back to Amazon. Anything you look up, or at. on Google, or buy from Amazon, the pages you read on Facebook, the posts you ‘like’, the things you say on WhatsApp, Twitter, Instagram and Linked-In are selectively harvested to build up a formidable mass of information about you, all aimed at finding out what you’re interested in so they can sell the information to advertisers. I wrote to a friend about footballs (I mean the round sort) recently and shouldn’t have been, but was, surprised to find ads for Adidas and other brands of balls and boots bouncing around in my birdtracks across the net. So now I fly.

    If you want privacy, use a good VPN, a mail service like Hushmail, or Signal and browse using Tor, but privacy can’t be taken for granted. The so-called Dark Web was penetrated and Dread Pirates Roberts, creator of the famous/infamous Silk Road can nowadays be found c/o the US Penitentiary in Tucson, where he is serving a double life sentence + 40 years.

    Please for everyone’s sake, and your own sanity, try to discriminate between wild conspiracy theories designed to arouse hysteria and cause panic, and the genuinely antisocial conspiracies that are never talked about. Like the current carefully engineered boom in house prices in the UK.

  7. This is way more lax than either British or German tracking. And incomparably less strict than tracking in Taiwan and Israel. I’d say that French preserved quite a lot of freedom compared to others.

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