'Vaccine passport proposals unworkable and baseless'

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Social distancing: the Government is looking at plans which could see licensees ask customers to declare their coronavirus status to remove pandemic rules (image: Natsco/Getty)
Social distancing: the Government is looking at plans which could see licensees ask customers to declare their coronavirus status to remove pandemic rules (image: Natsco/Getty)

Related tags: lockdown, Coronavirus, Beer, Health and safety

Pubs may need to ask customers for health information if they want to operate without social distancing rules, it has been reported.

The Government is looking at rules which would see pubs able to ask customers to declare their Covid status — a recent test result or proof of vaccination — on entry.

It is part of a wider review into social distancing measures, due to be published in June.

Speaking at a House of Commons Liaison Committee hearing, Prime Minister Boris Johnson was asked about vaccine certificates.

"I think that's the kind of thing that may be up to individual publicans, it may be up to the landlord," he said.

Several newspapers have reported that Covid status checks could see pubs able to ease social distancing requirements whereas those who did not ask customers would be subject to tougher rules.

A Whitehall source told The Guardian​ newspaper that the consultation was in its early stages and no decision had been made.

It is understood officials are looking at modifying an NHS app so pub goers could show proof of a recent negative test or vaccination against the virus.

Pub sector voices have spoken against a mandated vaccination proof initiative and said the sector already works hard to make its venues safe.

UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls said it was crucial that pub trips were not subject to mandatory vaccination certification.

Source of conflict

“It is simply unworkable, would cause conflict between staff and customers and almost certainty result in breaches of equality rules," Nicholls said.

"Through the success of the vaccine rollout we need to throw off the shackles of coronavirus in line with the Government’s roadmap  not impose more checks on our ability to socialise and do business.”

Even on a voluntary basis, the proposals presented operational problems, she added.

Survey

Would you support a vaccine passport policy?

  • Yes

    16%
  • No

    80%
  • Unsure

    4%

The British Institute of Innkeeping (BII) called the idea "unworkable and baseless" and said it could result in business failures and job losses.

BII CEO Steven Alton said:  “Public Health England proved last year that despite over 60 million visits a week in the summer of 2020 to hospitality venues, there was no discernible rise in Covid rates caused by people safely socialising in our pubs.

"To demand even more of them at a time when their businesses are teetering on the edge, and at the same time excluding members of their communities who may not have the option of vaccination, would be devastating for our sector."

The BII called for an end of restrictions from 21 June, the final stage of the Government's roadmap.

Rules around social distancing and limited customer movement around the pub have made hospitality feel less amicable as well as hitting profits, licensees have said.

Operators have called for an end to rules such as table service when pubs can resume indoor trade in May.

Johnson has previously said the issue of 'vaccine passports' involves “deep and complex” issues concerning personal freedoms.

“We can’t be discriminatory against people who, for whatever reason, can’t have the vaccine,” he told MPs earlier this year. 

Medical reasons

Johnson added: “There might be medical reasons why people can’t have the vaccine or some people may genuinely refuse to have one.

“Now I think that’s a mistake, I think everybody should have a vaccine but we need to thrash this all out.”

More than half (56%) of adults were in favour of proof of immunity against coronavirus in a pub setting, a YouGov survey found.

The survey found overall, 58% of Brits would support the introduction of a vaccine passport system as soon as possible and while the roll out is still ongoing.

This included 28% who strongly support the idea. However, about a third (34%) would be opposed to the idea.

Related topics: Legislation

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