A popular pub has apologised and will offer free drinks to a 78-year-old customer who was refused service because he did not have a mobile phone to register his details using an app.
The U-turn by The Angel Of Corbridge, Northumberland, came as Age UK warned that older drinkers were at risk of being discriminated against for not having a smartphone.
As lockdown restrictions are eased in England, some pubs are asking customers to order through an online app in order to minimise contact with staff.
Age UK said the measure rules out half of those aged 65 to 74 and 70% of the over-75s because they do not use a smartphone.
Widower David Walters complained to the Telegraph newspaper that the policy was ageist after he was denied service at the Angel and claimed he was told that customers had to use an app to order and submit contact details to NHS Test and Trace.
He told the newspaper: “I just thought it was terrible.
“Older people like me don’t have this computer knowledge because we weren’t brought up with computers.”
In a statement on Facebook, the pub backtracked and apologised.
It said: “After following guidelines we have made a mistake and we are sorry.
“Everyone is welcome at The Angel. We will be personally apologising to David and inviting him over for drinks on the house.”
Official Government guidance states venues should ensure there is a way for an individual to provide their contact details “if they do not own a smartphone or have access to digital routes”, and suggests paper records.
It says: “You must make sure that there is a method of checking in that does not rely on the customer using a smartphone or other technology in order not to digitally exclude people without access to these technologies.”
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, said the requirement for people to use apps in pubs and restaurants “risks widening the digital divide and reducing the opportunities for some older people to enjoy socialising once again”.
She added: “We fully understand the need for venues to pay attention to infection control but it would be helpful to their bottom lines, as well as to older people, if they ensure that smartphone use is not a precondition for buying a drink or a meal.”