New restaurant rules raise privacy concerns


HONOLULU (KHON2) — Oahu’s second shutdown will end as the island transitions into tier one of the city’s reopening strategy.

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This means that families can once again go to the park, beach, or hiking trails, as long as groups are limited to five.

Many businesses like restaurants, retail shops and attractions such as museums, the zoo, and aquarium will be allowed to reopen at 50 percent capacity. Again, groups must be limited to five.

For restaurants, each group must be within the same household, and one of them must provide their name, address, and phone number. But that’s not sitting well with everyone.

The new rules are raising privacy concerns for customers. There’s the possibility that the information can be used for identity theft or sold to a third-party. And how long can restaurants hold on to that information?

The Hawaii Restaurant Association says that the information will help with contact tracing if a customer or worker is infected with COVID-19, so it adds a layer of protection for public health. Customers are being asked to put more trust in their favorite restaurants.

“If we mess up on this, it’s not gonna help us in the long run, it will only hurt us. So I’m sure that the great majority of the restaurateurs will use the information only if requested by the health department and destroy it otherwise,” said Tom Jones of the Hawaii Restaurant Association.

Jones owns four restaurants and started collecting phone numbers, addresses and emails of customers before the second stay-at-home order because it was recommended by the National Restaurant Association. He says that customers were apprehensive about giving the information at first.

“Our policy was we would destroy the information after about 60 days and we wouldn’t use it for anything other than contact tracing, and most of the guests understood that and were compliant,” said Jones.

The mayor says that only one family member will be required to provide their name, phone number, and address. The information will be used only for contact tracing and it can be kept for 28 days. He’s counting on customers to provide the information because it benefits everyone.

“I have confidence and trust in the residents of the City and County of Honolulu that they will do their best because they’re protecting themselves, their household, and family unit coming into the restaurant, and the rest of the ohana in this island,” said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

Consumer advocates say that it’s now more important than ever to dine at places we can trust. And restaurants will benefit in reassuring customers that their information will be safe, and will not be used for anything else.

“A lot of us have our relationships with our local restaurants. So I think that will help with the development of that relationship. But also for those restaurants, it really will be very important for them to make sure that information is protected,” said Hawaii BBB Marketplace Manager Roseann Freitas.

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