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Washington Gov. Jay Inslee is facing criticism for demanding that, as part of their upcoming reopening, restaurants begin collecting private information from their customers, including their names, their telephone numbers and their email addresses.
“If the establishment offers table service, create a daily log of all customers and maintain that daily log for 30 days, including telephone/email contact information, and time in. This will facilitate any contact tracing that might need to occur,” a “Phase 2 Restaurant/Tavern Reopening” guidance issued by his office on Monday reads.
Read the guidance below:
During a briefing Tuesday, Inslee defended the guidance.
“If you have somebody who becomes sick and they were sitting right next to a person at a restaurant, to be able to identify that person could be very valuable for their health to try to save their life,” he said.
“We want to be able to open restaurants. People are anxious for that and we want to do some common-sense things so that if someone does have an infection at a restaurant, we will be able to save other patrons’ lives. We ought to be able to do both.”
When asked whether customers will be required to display their ID to prove their identity, he said only that he’s working with a restaurant trade group to determine such details.
“This is something that we have to make sure that we build protocols around privacy so that any of this information can only be used for this purpose, can be expunged after 14 days so that this is only a minor inconvenience,” he added. “No one is looking to make this a federal crime. We’re trying to save some lives here.”
Listen to the full presser below:
The guidance drew immediate criticism from notable locals, including Seattle radio station KTTH host and conservative commentator Jason Rantz.
“I will not give any restaurant, nor Governor Jay Inslee, my personal contact information just to dine inside, despite his coronavirus mandate,” he bluntly wrote in an op-ed late Tuesday.
“This mandate by Inslee is not safe. It’s government overreach. And I don’t trust this administration. It’s really that simple. There are serious and legitimate privacy concerns with Inslee’s over-the-top coronavirus restaurant mandate. Some of the concerns stem from his own policies that put us at risk.”
As evidence of the Inslee administration’s incompetence, Rantz pointed to the recent leak of a “snitch list” containing the names of Washington State residents who’ve “snitched” on people for violating other lockdown mandates.
“Whistleblowers who reported Washington businesses in violation of Gov. Jay Inslee’s ‘Stay Home, Stay Healthy’ orders have become targets of online harassment and doxxing after their names were released as part of a public records request,” local station KING had reported earlier Tuesday.
While most would argue that “snitching” on parents hanging out at playgrounds with their children, as an example, certainly isn’t praiseworthy behavior, the fact remains that even “snitches” deserve basic privacy. Yet under Inslee, they haven’t received it.
Rantz: I won’t give restaurants or Inslee my contact info for coronavirus order https://t.co/LckcJt6lo2
— (((Jason Rantz))) on KTTH Radio (@jasonrantz) May 13, 2020
“But we also don’t know if the data will be abused,” Rantz’ op-ed continued. “They say it’ll be used for contact tracing. Great. But how far is Inslee willing to go to protect the lives of Washingtonians? Because he’s already abused his power in his coronavirus stay-at-home order.”
He’s “abused” it by shuttering gun shops and reportedly allowing a grandmother to be arrested for the “crime” of encouraging parents to bring their kids to a playground.
“For weeks, Kimberley Taxdahl says she’s watched as officials canceled long-standing summer traditions in Sedro-Woolley. Thursday, she says she didn’t want to standby watching any longer. … She came down to Riverfront Park and removed caution tape surrounding the playground equipment,” station KCPQ reported over the weekend.
She then posted a message to Facebook offering free cotton candy to the first 50 kids who showed up at the park. And for that, she was arrested.
Learn more below:
This sort of “abuse” is so common in Washington, Rantz continued, that trusting the governor with contact information simply isn’t feasible.
“What will Inslee do with this kind of contact information in an increasingly desperate-sounding effort to contain the virus?” he concluded. “Privacy activists sounded the alarms last month when it came to the related idea of cell phones being used for contact tracing.”
Rantz’ concerns have been echoed by others.
“The current guidelines requiring restaurants to maintain mandatory daily logs of customers is vague as currently written and creates risks to people’s fundamental rights to privacy and association,” the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington reportedly said in a statement Tuesday.
Nevertheless, some restaurant owners have vowed to uphold the mandate.
“Rich Fox, the CEO of Weimann-Maclise Restaurants, which owns 10 Seattle-area restaurants including Poquitos on Capitol Hill and Bastille Café & Bar in Ballard, plans to post the new guidelines at the front of all his restaurants and have someone at the door with a clipboard take down customers’ data,” The Seattle Times has confirmed. “If patrons opt not to disclose the info, they will be declined entry.”
“These are the regulations and rules, and we have to follow them,” Fox reportedly said. “This is what we have to do to protect the public and our staff. This is the reality that we have to deal with.”
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