More than 250 firms took part in the flash poll from the Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA) with the trade body stating certification would not be viable for many operators.
Nightclubs are permitted to trade for the first time since last March from next week (Monday 19 July), as part of the Government's delayed step four of its roadmap.
This followed health secretary Sajid Javid announcing earlier this week (Monday 12 July) that nightclubs and other businesses were being advised to ask for proof customers have had a double dose of the Covid vaccine or a negative lateral flow test.
In the Government’s guidance, which was released yesterday – less than a week before restrictions are lifted – it asks operators to consider using the NHS Covid Pass and says “if sufficient measures are not taken to limit infection, the state would consider mandating the Covid Pass in certain venues at a later date”.
Respondents to the NTIA’s survey gave a variety of reasons as to why they would not ask customers for their vaccination status.
This included the unreliability or lateral flow testing, the short notice given by the Government, the fact a large part of the sector’s demographic is 18 to 30 year olds, who haven’t had the chance to be double vaccinated yet alongside the cost of implementing the system without active Government support.
Further reasons also featured were other hospitality venues such as pubs or bars of similar size were not being encouraged to ask for certification, the fact the night-time sector relies on spontaneity, being at a disadvantage to other businesses who don’t have to ask for proof of vaccination and the potential for confrontation between customers and staff, heightened by there not being a uniform standard across the board.
NTIA boss Michael Kill the trade association was concerned the Government had caused more confusion by suggesting Covid passports are not mandatory while at the same time, details reveal clearly this could well be the case in the future.
He added: “Government guidance released this week has given businesses less than a week to make what would be a major change to their operating model.
“This type of ambiguous communication is creating hesitation among customers and operators. At this rate, ‘freedom day’ will be a false dawn for a nightlife sector characterised by chaos.
“The Government should recognise explicitly Covid passports are just not viable for large swathes of the night-time economy, as their own internal report into the matter concluded.
“My worry here is they intend to hide behind this ‘guidance’ when cases rise and they are forced to change tack and blame it all on individual businesses and consumers for not taking the steps to stay safe.
“In fact, this sector takes the safety of all its staff and customers very seriously and wants to be able to reopen safely but is once again at sea because of a lack of leadership from the Government.”