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Giving personal information to dine is tough to accept, but it makes sense

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When restaurants are allowed to open with customers sitting at tables, expect some diners to have some outrage with their burgers.

Washington state’s rules for reopening full-service restaurants mandate establishments to record customers’ names, phone numbers, email addresses and the time of their visit and keep those records for at least 30 days.

Although, it now looks like Gov. Jay Inslee might relax those rules.

“I think where we’ll end up is giving customers an option of leaving a phone number or not,” Inslee said at a Thursday afternoon news conference. Inslee added he’ll have more to say on the subject “in the next day or so.”

The original idea, while annoying, had merit.

Our personal annoyances do not supersede the need to continue to slow the spread of COVID-19. It’s an issue of public health and safety.

Keep in mind, the right to a sit-down dinner is not constitutionally protected nor is eating in a restaurant mandated.

So those who find the idea of logging their personal information before they dine abhorrent and unacceptable can opt out. Take-out will still be available sans release of personal data.

The reason the collection of information makes sense is it allows better tracking of COVID-19 cases that stem from a restaurant. Those who were in the restaurant about the time a virus-carrier was believed to have visited can be contacted to determine if they have symptoms and with whom they have had close contact. In addition, those who were in the restaurant can be warned they might have been exposed to the coronavirus.

The overall dining experience will be different than pre-COVID-19, which is to be expected. Masks and gloves will be worn by restaurant employees, and social-distancing rules will be in place.

At this point, the state mandates — subject to change — protect citizens while allowing restaurants to reopen.

However, when this emergency situation has subsided, the mandate for personal information must be eliminated.

Perhaps this is why Inslee is rethinking the rules now. Providing personal information to dine is not something that can be accepted as the new normal in our society.