State changes course on collecting personal information in restaurants

May 15, 2020

Washington Policy Center reported on May 12th that the state planned a mandatory collection of personal information when visiting a restaurant. Governor Inslee has subsequently indicated that this will no longer be a requirement.

Governor Inslee’s original rules for restaurants re-opening included the requirement to force restaurant owners to collect personal information for every customer. This would have included the customer name, address, email, and phone number which the state was going to use to determine who was to be quarantined or tested for COVID-19.

During a call on Thursday afternoon (May 14th) the Governor indicated that providing contact information would no longer be required and would be optional for those that chose to.

Certainly, had the state continued with its requirement that a business record every customer it interacts with erodes the right to privacy and violates basic civil rights. Under the governor’s other current COVID-19 orders, nearly all civil rights are already suspended.  The new order for restaurants would have recruited private business owners as enforcers of government edicts.

Washington Policy Center still believes the correct course of action is not to require any data collection at all but removing the mandatory recording of personal data is a reasonable compromise given the COVID-19 crisis.

The safety of Washington residents is, of course, important but both residents and businesses have been sensible in their approach to the COVID-19 crisis and can self-regulate themselves to keep our communities safe. The vast majority of restaurant owners will continue doing everything they need to keep their guests safe.

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