Samuel Smith, the Yorkshire-based brewer and pub operator, is refusing to cooperate with the government’s track and trace system.

Pub staff told The Times the traditional 200-strong operator had given no instructions to operate the system, though a few are doing so on a voluntary basis.

Phones, music and swearing are already banded from Sam Smith pubs, which pride themselves on being traditional.

The Times visited 15 Samuel Smith’s pubs and found only one, the Yorkshire Grey in Fitzrovia, London, requiring customers to give their phone number and name before they could be served.

Three others in London had pads of paper on the bar for those customers who wished to provide details, but they were under no obligation to do so.

A reporter who asked at the King William Ale House in Bristol whether they needed to sign in was told: “We don’t do that, I’m afraid.”

When asked why, the staff replied: “It’s the brewery. They’re too traditional.”

A spokeswoman for Samuel Smith’s told The Times: “The reasoning behind [not having track and trace] is it’s against GDPR data protection to ask people’s names and addresses and most people would give false names and addresses … Sam Smith’s customers are locals and most managers know the customers and word would get around if Covid was in a pub.”

She later added: “People who write down names and addresses with a pen on paper could also spread the virus. There is also confidentiality — there was a man who followed a pretty woman into a pub and saw her write down her name and phone number and then copied it and bothered her.”

The British Beer and Pub Association said: “It is vital that the trade and all industry stakeholders continue to follow the government guidance.”

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