'Sensible' for Prime Minister to drop vaccine passports for pubs

By Emily Hawkins

- Last updated on GMT

Vaccine passports: it was reported that the Prime Minister is considering shelving plans to use health checks in hospitality (image: Getty/yagmradam)
Vaccine passports: it was reported that the Prime Minister is considering shelving plans to use health checks in hospitality (image: Getty/yagmradam)

Related tags lockdown Legislation Health and safety Beer Coronavirus

The pub trade has welcomed reports Covid-status certification will not be introduced in pubs.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has moved away from supporting the use of Covid certification checks in hospitality, it was reported in the Daily Mail.

Instead, the vaccine passports could be used just to unlock large participation sectors including theatres, nightclubs and big sporting events.

The Government told The Morning Advertiser​ no decisions had been taken.

However, it is understood Covid checks have been ruled out in essential retail and transport for accessibility reasons. 

A Government spokesperson said: “We are considering a range of evidence around Covid-status certification and whether it may have a role in opening up higher risk settings safely. The review is ongoing and no decisions have been taken."

The Government has ruled out any system being introduced from Monday 17 May – the earliest date pubs will be allowed to reopen for indoor trade.

A vaccine passport system would see customers required to show proof of vaccination, a negative test result or immunity from a recent infection in order to relax social distancing rules. 

Unjustifiable red tape

Trade voices welcomed the reports including the Society of Independent Brewers’ boss James Calder, who said if true the news would be “sensible and welcome”.

James Calder, SIBA chief executive said a health passport system “would have been another unjustifiable level of red tape and incursion into the freedom of individuals".

However, he cautioned that the sector still had many battles to fight, with many pubs and breweries struggling until the lifting of all restrictions on trade.

Calder added: “For many businesses the threat of closure is not over, with hundreds of small independent breweries across the UK seeking the introduction of a ‘brewers support fund’ as already introduced in Scotland. Without it, your local brewery will not be out of the woods yet.”

The Campaign for Real Ale also welcomed the reports with chairman Nik Antona saying it would be “the right call” to ditch the proposals for pubs and bars.

Nightmare set of rules

Antona added: “A vaccine passport scheme would have been another nightmare set of rules for licensees to enforce and potentially exclusionary to some consumers.  

“The social and wellbeing benefits of pub going should be available to everyone, and the Government still has not provided any evidence that hospitality businesses have been a major vector for virus transmissions – so we saw no reason why the sector should be singled out for more unfair treatment.”

However, the Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA) said a passport system would be problematic for the late-night economy and highlighted bolstered restrictions for hospitality including contact-tracing requirements.

Unworkable restrictions

NTIA boss Michael Kill said additional trading measures for the hospitality sector were “unworkable”.

He added: “This would cause further anxiety for operators, creating more barriers to businesses, and potential conflict between staff and customers, as well as being discriminatory, given that the core of our market will not have been given the opportunity to have the vaccine by the time the roadmap engages the sector ”

He said it was unfair supermarkets and retail businesses had been granted extended hours and did not have requirements with NHS Test and Trace while non-essential shops had been permitted to reopen earlier than indoor hospitality.

Kill added: "Our sector wants to open the doors and trade our way out of the pandemic, not rely on Government financial support, but if we are confronted with restrictions hindering our ability to trade then they will need to provide more business support, including an extension to business rates holiday extension, furlough and a resolution to commercial rent debt, to save millions of jobs and businesses.”

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