Common Ground implements contact tracing system

Other AMS services to use similar methods upon reopening

Signs posted informing patrons about contact tracing at CoGro.
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After reopening in June, Common Ground Coffeehouse (CoGro) is using a contact tracing system as a preventative measure in the case of a COVID-19 outbreak on campus.

“At Common Ground we are taking appropriate safety measures to ensure our service is risk free,” Kate Gaffney, Common Ground administration and staff relations manager, wrote in a statement to The Journal. “Given the current situation, we think that there is no such thing as being too careful when it comes to the health of our customers.”

According to Gaffney, contact tracing is a prevention method applied in the case of an outbreak of COVID-19. It requires businesses to track who has visited their stores by keeping their contact information on file for a certain period of time.

READ MORE: Common Ground reopens with limited take-out menu

The process is used to identify, educate, and monitor individuals who have had close contact with those infected with the virus. These people are at a higher risk of becoming infected and spreading the virus to others.

Contact tracing can help limit further spread of the virus in the community.

“The Common Ground app uses the ChowNow platform, which was around before COVID-19. Here, users create an account where their contact information can be found,” Gaffney wrote. “We started using this app to allow for contactless pickup.

The app keeps a record of those who have ordered.”

In the event of an outbreak, Gaffney said Common Ground will reach out to all those who visited the store using mobile ordering and pick-up. She added this action would be taken as a safety precaution to ensure the health of their customers is prioritized.

Regarding privacy concerns with these methods, customers who have placed orders in-person have been informed their numbers are being kept for potential contact tracing.

CoGro has also added a disclaimer to its app for current and future mobile customers
to be notified about contact tracing.

READ MORE: AMS Food Bank reopens after closing due to COVID-19

“At Common Ground, the privacy of our customer base is as important as their health,” Gaffney wrote. “The contact information will only be utilized in the event of an outbreak and will not be shared unless we must do so based on public concerns. If this were to occur, the information would only be shared with relevant parties at Kingston. Frontenac, and Lennox and Addington (KFL&A) Public Health." 

When The Journal inquired whether other AMS services would be implementing a similar system as they reopen, Alexandra Samoyloff, AMS vice-president (operations), said the procedure is in place for them to do so.

"All open AMS services with public facing interactions will be implementing a system of contract tracing to ensure the safety of our community,” Samoyloff wrote. “The priority of the AMS and our staff during this time will be to follow guidelines and recommendations set out by the Government of Ontario and Queen’s University to ensure the safety of our community." 

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