Subscriber login Close [x]
remember me
You are not logged in.

Clubs hit back over Covid passports

Published:  20 July, 2021

The late-night sector has reacted with anger over the introduction of mandatory Covid passports from September, with Michael Kill of the Night Time Industries Association, branding it “an absolute shambles”.

The move has dampened the celebratory atmosphere for clubs and large venues, which were allowed to open their doors for the first time yesterday after 16 months of closures.

Club owners have expressed disappointment that all guests will now have to demonstrate they are double-jabbed in order to gain entry to venues, arguing that new rules put them at a competitive disadvantage against pubs and bars which aren’t subject to the same restrictions but operate in similar environments.

UK Hospitality (UKH) CEO Kate Nicholls called the announcement “a hammer blow" on a day when nightclubs were finally given hope that they could start to trade viably and make progress toward rebuilding and paying off accrued debts.

“Covid passports will be a costly burden that run the risk of creating flashpoints between staff and customers, as well as raising potential issues with equalities legislation and the handling of customer data.”

She added that the government had consulted with UKH on the introduction of a voluntary scheme as recently as last week.

Yesterday’s news that the passports would become mandatory is “devastating for the industry and risks hitting these fragile businesses and derailing their recovery and costing thousands of jobs”, she said.

The new policy is not being introduced straight away. It is due to come into effect from September, in order to stop the NHS being overwhelmed throughout the winter.

Business minister Paul Scully told Sky News: “It’s got to get through parliamentary scrutiny, so we’ve got to get it absolutely right, we’ve got to work with the sectors that are going to be affected, to make sure that we can define this really carefully.

“All we’re doing right now is giving an advanced warning of what is coming down the line.”

He denied the scheme was a bribe in order to get young people vaccinated.

The policy is yet another blow for hospitality, the third largest private sector employer in the UK. It is double the size of the financial services sector and represents 10% of UK employment, 6% of businesses and 5% of GDP. Prior to Covid, it employed 3.2 million people.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has previously said he wouldn’t rule out having to re-introduce Covid restrictions as infections continue to rise.