During a press conference on July 19, the day all remaining restrictions on social gatherings in the UK lifted, UK prime minister Boris Johnson reminded “everybody that some of life’s most important pleasures and opportunities are likely to be increasingly dependent on vaccination.”
He addressed “the continuing risk posed by nightclubs,” and said, in order to open, they would have to ask guests to show a Covid Pass from the UK’s National Health Service (NHS) upon entry. The pass shows proof of vaccination, a recent negative test or natural immunity.
The announcement comes after the UK’s Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) conducted a poll among more than 250 night time businesses, showing that 82.7% of them did not want to ask their customers to provide Covid status information.
There are various reasons for that, according to NTIA: Many of the UK’s independent night time businesses have been operating on the brink of bankruptcy over these past months, and the additional costs associated with implementing the system might tip them over.
Much of the trade in the night time economy relies on the consumer spontaneity, which will be undermined by the requirement to produce COVID status certification.
The key demographic of the 18-30 age group has not had the opportunity for double vaccination, “and there are still levels of high vaccine scepticism in this group,” the NTIA statement continues.
What is more, there’s “a sense that it was unfair that pubs/bars of similar size are not being encouraged to ask for certification despite being similar environments in many cases.” The double standard also led to a competitive disadvantage relative to businesses not requiring certification.
There’s some unreliability surrounding lateral flow testing, making this method a questionable proof. And last but not least, the system bore “potential for confrontation between staff and disgruntled consumers without certification, heightened by the fact there is no uniform standard.”
NTIA CEO Michael Kill pointed out, that the UK’s health secretary had said just a week prior to Johnsons July 19 announcement, that COVID passports would not be compulsory. He said, “the Government’s own report into vaccine passports found they were more trouble than they’re worth – so what could possibly explain the about turn, just as millions across the UK experience their first taste of a night out in a year and a half?”
Johnson went further, though, saying that the three means of entry currently accepted as COVID status certification are soon to become one: “I should serve notice now that by the end of September – when all over 18s will have had the chance to be double jabbed – we are planning to make full vaccination the condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather.
“Proof of a negative test will no longer be sufficient,” he said.
Greg Parmley, CEO of the UK’s live music trade body LIVE, commented, “The Government has had several different positions on Covid certification in the last six months and we will need to see more detail before we can understand the full impact for the live music industry. Many festivals and large venues are already adopting some level of Covid certification, and as responsible event organisers, will continue to do so.
“What we are absolutely clear about, however, is that venues such as small music clubs should not be treated any differently to other similar-sized hospitality businesses such as bars and restaurants when it comes to the need for Covid vaccine certification.”
In the UK, upcoming events demanding visitors to show proof that they’re healthy include Reading or Leeds festivals (Aug. 27-29), as well as All Points East (Aug. 27-Sept. 2).