Overcoming privacy concerns for contact tracing: Listen to your brain not your heart

Hospitality (such as restaurants, cafes, and bars) is one of hardest-hit sectors by COVID-19 with just 11% of hospitality businesses being able to operate normally during the lockdown. Contact tracing is one of the key recovery strategies to help the hospitality industry to recover in the post-COVID-19 era. A key benefit of this approach would be that it would help avoid another lockdown. But if contract tracing approach fails, there is a risk that the second wave of infection will occur. For example, UK, Australia, and New Zealand encourage hospitality venues to collect customers’ contact details to support rapid contact tracing. The economic implications of the second wave for restaurants would be further rising unemployment, loss of income, and disruption in the food supply chain.

Dr. Donia Waseem at the University of Bradford is a co-investigator on a project led by Dr Joseph Chen at the Macquarie University (Sydney, Australia) that will help understand the extent to which privacy issues can be addressed for the hospitality industry. For customer’s privacy is a key concern to participate in contact tracing because of trust issues. The results of their preliminary findings show that the key for the restaurants, cafes, and bars to encourage customers to participate in contact tracing is to build trust by stimulating their thinking rather than their feeling. Customers’ brains (knowledge) rather than their hearts (emotions) can increase the effectiveness of contact tracing. Also, customers jump on the bandwagon of contact tracing if they see their family, friends and closer circle participate in contact tracing.

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