is it illegal to remove the NHS Covid app? – .

is it illegal to remove the NHS Covid app? – .

Being told to isolate can be boring – but we all have to do our part (Photo: Hollie Adams / Bloomberg / Getty Images)

What was once considered the country’s best hope for controlling Covid-19 cases, with around 25 million downloads in England and Wales since its launch, the NHS Covid Test and Trace app has dropped in popularity significantly. .

The number of alerts sent to app users telling them to isolate – also known as ‘pinging’ – has increased rapidly, with 500,000 Britons being ordered to self-isolate in just one week.

Subsequently, many people who fear self-isolation have chosen to turn off the contact tracing feature or completely uninstall the app from their smartphones.

Dr Jenny Harries, head of the new UK Health Security Agency, told MPs on Thursday she was ‘aware that people are choosing not to use the app’ when asked about fears that people don’t delete it to avoid being “pinged”.

The government is still urging Brits to use the app – but is it really illegal to remove the app or turn off contact tracing?

Here’s all you need to know.

Will self-isolation end after “Freedom Day” on July 19?

Self-isolation rules will remain in place after July 19 – but will change less than a month later.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid said fully vaccinated adults and anyone under the age of 18 will be exempt from Monday, August 16, unless they test positive for Covid-19.

Yes, self-isolation will remain in place until August 16 for people who have been doubly vaccinated (Photo: Leon Neal / Getty Images)

Current self-isolation guidelines will remain in place for those who have only received one coronavirus vaccine or have not yet received their first dose.

Mr Javid said the country “will soon be in a position to take a risk-based approach that recognizes the enormous benefits of the vaccine.”

He added: “This new approach means we can manage the virus in a manner proportionate to the pandemic while maintaining the freedoms that are so important to all of us. “

Until then, you can be fined up to £ 10,000 for breaking the self-isolation rules – including when the NHS Covid-19 Test and Trace app tells you to self-isolate.

Is it illegal to delete the NHS Covid Test and Trace app?

Although using the app is encouraged by the government, it is not mandatory, so it is not illegal to remove the app from your phone.

The NHS website says: “The NHS COVID-19 app is completely voluntary and you can choose whether or not to download it. You can also uninstall and delete the app whenever you want. ‘

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However, you may run into issues if you delete the app after it asks you to isolate it and then continue not to isolate it.

Anyone who breaks the quarantine rules after being asked to self-isolate by the app faces fines of up to £ 10,000.

As people are required to self-isolate, there is £ 500 alimony for low-income people who cannot work from home and have therefore lost income.

How many people have deleted the NHS Covid Test and Trace app?

Although the Department of Health and Social Affairs (DHSC) said there was no reliable figure on the number of Brits who removed the app, as it would only be based on people who have chosen to share their data, it is estimated that it is about 18 million.

A survey by Savanta ComRes found that one in five people had removed the NHS Covid-19 app to avoid being questioned and forced into self-isolation.

People aged 18 to 34 were the most likely to have removed the app, with one in three admitting to having gotten rid of it.

Another third said they want to remove the app by July 19, when the restrictions are lifted.

man looks bored with his phone

You can be fined up to £ 10,000 for not isolating yourself (Photo: Getty)

Is it illegal to disable contact tracing on the NHS Covid Test and Trace app?

There are four cases where you are allowed to turn off contact tracing.

The situations are as follows:

  • When you store your phone in a locker or common area
  • If you are working behind a fixed transparent screen and are fully protected from other people
  • If you are a health and social service worker wearing medical grade personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • If you are a healthcare professional working in a healthcare facility such as a hospital or doctor’s office

You must re-enable contact tracing once you exit the situation.

When contact tracing is paused, you will still be able to check in at the locations with an official NHS QR code poster.

Should you continue to use the NHS Covid Test and Trace app?

Despite the wave of pings, the overwhelming consensus among health experts appears to be to continue using the app as intended.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs said : “The NHS Covid-19 application is reducing the spread of the coronavirus and has prevented around 600,000 cases of Covid-19 and 8,000 deaths between September and December 2020.

“The app does exactly what it was designed to do – notify close contacts of someone who tests positive for COVID-19 that they are at risk and advise them to self-isolate. “

NHS Covid Testing and Tracing Application
Maybe it’s time to redownload the app (Photo: Jakub Porzycki / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Using the app saves lives by alerting potentially infected people to self-isolate, thus removing them from circulation before they can pass it on to others.

This is all the more important as July 19 is approaching, as many Britons will undoubtedly be exposed to more people as they celebrate their new found freedom.

Additionally, although the QR Test and Trace system is no longer legally enforced after Freedom Day, many businesses may not allow you to enter their premises without registering.

Therefore, it may be useful to keep the application a little longer.

MORE: Metro line suspended because too many employees surveyed by the Covid app and ordered to isolate

MORE: Neighbors ‘walked through the walls’ by NHS enforcement, forcing them to self-isolate

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