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The city wants restaurants to track who dines in. Will they?

The city said it wants those offering dining service to "maintain a log of customers to assist public health officials with contact tracing if necessary"
Credit: SLBJ
Ted Charak of Planter's House

ST. LOUIS — One of the reopening recommendations for St. Louis restaurants, set to welcome back diners on Monday, has proved controversial elsewhere.

The city said it wants those offering dining service to "maintain a log of customers to assist public health officials with contact tracing if necessary."

"Your (point of sale) system may provide this function or use of a hand registry to write and record the name, date and phone number of each party," it told restaurants, adding that employees should wear masks, cleaning should be increased and 6 feet maintained between staff and guests.

The city of Austin, Texas, required similar tracking, but the state's attorney general on Tuesday called it "Orwellian" and threatened litigation.

St. Louis isn't requiring the step, and mayoral spokesman Jacob Long said the recommendation was made to aid in contact tracing. "For instance, if you ate out and later it was determined that a server or employee was positive (for Covid-19), the health department would have a way to contact you and recommend a self-quarantine," Long said. "The taking down of the information is to accommodate the appropriate follow up and to continue reducing transmission in order to avoid another spike in cases and admissions to hospitals."

Paul Hamilton of Hamilton Hospitality, whose restaurants include Eleven Eleven Mississippi and Vin de Set, said he won't keep a handwritten log of customers, but will have reservation logs that could help with contact tracing. PW Pizza is switching to taking reservations, joining Hamilton's other restaurants.

But if a guest walks in, "I'm not going to require them to write their name and stuff," Hamilton said. "I already know there's going to be a backlash from people."

Masks are encouraged for entering and leaving, though, even if they won't be worn at tables.

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