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(LEAD) Gov't to require clubs, bars to keep QR code-based customer log

All News 21:16 May 24, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS more info, background in paras 6,7 and 9)

SEOUL, May 24 (Yonhap) -- The government unveiled a plan Sunday to require high-risk entertainment establishments like clubs and bars to keep a quick response (QR) code-based customer register, starting next month, as a measure to better track down potential coronavirus-infected patients.

The decision was made after the submission of false personal information by infected people -- including the latest case of a cram school teacher in Incheon, west of Seoul -- led to COVID-19 infections, officials said.

"Over the course of tracking down patients linked to the Itaewon clubs, the government experienced difficulties because many of them made false statements about their personal details in the visitor logs," Health Minister Park Neung-hoo told a press briefing.

"We have decided to adopt an electronic register using QR codes so as to collect accurate data on visitors and operate a swift quarantine system," he said.

Places like clubs, karaoke bars and "hunting pocha," or casual diners that cater to customers looking for blind dates, must use the QR scanning system in running their business. Other establishments exposed to high infection risks will also be recommended to adopt the system.

Regarding privacy concerns, the QR code system may be a better way to protect personal information as opposed to handwritten registers because the information will be stored in an encrypted form before it is accessed by disease investigators, officials said.

Private data collected from the QR-code registers will be discarded automatically after four weeks.

The QR-code registers will only be used when the infectious disease alert level is raised to "serious" or "cautionary." The government will test-run the system until mid-June before its official launch.

South Korea reported 25 new coronavirus infections Sunday, bringing the total caseload to 11,190, with sporadic infections linked to the Itaewon nightclub cluster still on the rise.

A club in the popular nightlife district of Itaewon in Seoul is closed on May 12, 2020, with signs that read "Do Not Enter," after it turned out to be one of the places infected patients had visited.


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