WINDSOR, ONT. -- Now that Windsor-Essex is in the red zone of the province’s reopening framework, restaurants are finally serving dine-in customers again this week, a process being made easier and safer for some already using QR code smartphone technology.

Under the safe reopening act, restaurants and small businesses are required to contact trace every guest, an arduous process that takes time, resources and isn’t easy to manage.

A handful of Windsor restaurants are taking advantage of a locally developed tech solution for contact tracing with a new program called ID Quickly.

“It’s definitely streamlined that whole process. We made it more efficient, quicker, more secure,” says Ali Al-Aasm, the co-founder of Windsor tech company and solution developer, Red Piston.

Rather than using a paper form and putting your contact info out for anyone to see, the software uses QR code technology. All patrons need to do is hover their camera over the unique code, which pulls up a form to fill out their name, contact info and a short COVID-19 questionnaire.

“You don’t need to touch anything, you just pull out your phone, point it at the QR code, a form comes up on your phone and away you go,” says Al-Aasm.

After completing the questionnaire users can click a link to view the menu on their phone.

For restaurants, it means less hassle and lowers staffing costs and waste by eliminating printed menus.

In the event of potential exposure at a business, getting contact tracing information to the Windsor-Essex County Health Unit is one click away.

“Once you digitize that data, everything just becomes easier too in terms of if there’s any exposure,” Al-Aasm says.

“There’s no reason for you not to have this app,” says Lauren Hare, a general manager at The Dotte, a Riverside-area restaurant that has adopted the technology. “It’s free, it’s so easy to set up and it’s so convenient for your customers and you as well.”

It’s Free to any small business with one location — a service made possible by a $20,000 federal grant.

Other businesses using the technology include Oven 360, Kona LaSalle and Panache, as well as locations in Toronto.

With all the added costs on small businesses due to the pandemic, restaurants appreciate the gesture.

“The cost for reopening for a restaurant is absolutely astronomical,” says Adriano Ciotoli of Windsor Eats. “Any little thing that can help eliminate some of that is just very welcome.”

According to the Chamber of Commerce, one in six small businesses in this region have already closed permanently.

Windsor Eats is hosting a webinar Feb. 23 at 10:00 a.m. to teach businesses how to use the time-saving tech.

“It’s one massive headache, or weight that’s taken off their shoulders,” Ciotoli says.

Businesses can download the software here.