Washington State Decides to Require Phone Numbers to Get Into Restaurants—a Plan Oregon Abandoned

Civil liberties lawyers question the constitutionality of requiring businesses to track this information.

La Altena. (Brian Burk)

If restaurants in Washington state want to reopen, they will need to take down the contact information, such as name, phone number and time of visit, of diners who walk through their doors, The New York Times reported Monday.

That way, if there is an outbreak, officials can more effectively trace who came in contact with an infected person.

This sets Washington apart from Oregon, where last week Gov. Kate Brown's office revised the draft of a reopening plan to remove the requirement that businesses keep a log of customers for contact tracing purposes. When the governor's office released final guidance for restaurants May 8, it did not include a requirement for restaurants to collect such information.

As WW previously reported, some civil liberties lawyers questioned the constitutionality of the state requiring businesses to keep such logs. However, the lawyers pointed out, it is probably perfectly legal for businesses to require customers to provide this information, since they may leave a place of business if they so choose.

Related: Is it legal for a restaurant to take your temperature? Oregon lawyers say, "Open wide."

In theory, says Andrew Schpak, an employment litigation lawyer in Portland, this form of data collection would give the government a list of all the places a person has visited.

"It's similar to ideas of gun background checks: Why does the government have the right to know who I am or where I was?" Schpak says. "Let's think of the worst-case scenario: Are people going to be excited to write their names on a porn log or a weed dispensary [log]?"

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