After over a year of lockdowns, tiers and restrictions, it’s now expected that all restrictions will be lifted on 19 July. From this date, there are likely to be no more limits on how many people you can meet indoors or outdoors, and all pubs, shops, galleries and nightclubs can open to full capacity.
The UK government has also revealed that contact tracing will have less of a focus. And you’ll no longer have to check into venues with your details, a QR code or the NHS COVID-19 app.
So what does this mean for the NHS COVID-19 app in general? Does it still have a use? Should you delete it from your phone?
According to the Department of Health, the NHS COVID-19 app has been downloaded by 25.8 million people so far. Aside from using it to check into venues, you can also use it to log in symptoms and enter test results.
Crucially, the app is also used for contact tracing alerts. People who have been detected to be around someone else who has tested positive for COVID-19 are sent notifications telling them they must self-isolate.
So far, over a million positive test results have been logged into the app. Which in turn has resulted in over 2.5 million contact tracing notifications being sent out.
However, many business owners, especially those in hospitality, have complained that the app sends out too many isolation notifications which then causes disruption as staff members are unable to come into work - although often they aren’t even infected.
But while the notifications have been seen as a nuisance by some, it’s worth highlighting that the app has played a vital role in preventing the spread of COVID-19 in some areas of the UK.
Professor Alan Woodward from Surrey University told the BBC: "Something of the order of half a million to 600,000 cases were averted, as a result of using this app. So that has to be worth it.”
So should you keep the app on your phone? While the UK’s vaccine drive has been a big success, many people still haven’t received both their jabs. So staying safe as the nation opens up is still very important.
When it comes to the app, ministers and scientific advisers are keen to strike a balance.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has urged people to continue using the track and trace app and to self-isolate if asked. He said: "People should want to know if they have been in contact with somebody with coronavirus."
However, Dr Jenny Harries, head of the new UK Health Security Agency has said that work is under way to "tune the app to ensure that it is appropriate to the risk".
According to the gov.uk website, "NHS Test and Trace is a key part of the country’s ongoing COVID-19 response".
So, it looks as though official advice is not to delete the app just yet.
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