The Dutch coronavirus app CoronaMelder will not go live on September 1 as planned because the emergency law authorising its use is still waiting to go through parliament.
Health minister Hugo de Jonge confirmed in a letter to MPs that the app, seen as a key element of the government’s coronavirus strategy, would not be active despite more than a million people downloading it since it was released on August 17.
The app uses Bluetooth technology to alert people when someone they have been in contact with for longer than 15 minutes tests positive for Covid-19. Originally due to be released in July, it has been delayed by a series of technological and legal setbacks.
The app has been trialled in five regions including parts of Drenthe and Overijssel. De Jonge said more than 400 tests had been requested as a result of notifications being sent to people in the trial regions.
The privacy watchdog Autoriteit Persoonsgegevens said legislation needed to be passed setting out users’ rights before it could be put into circulation, but the app was taken out of an earlier bill which was criticised as too draconian.
MPs have said it should be a personal choice whether to install the app, so shops and restaurants will not be able to refuse customers who have not downloaded it.
The app is also not compatible with around two million older generation mobile phones, while health officials have criticised it for causing confusion in the testing regime. People who receive alerts but have no symptoms are advised to take a test after seven days, but there is currently no mechanism for booking tests so far in advance.
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