Pubs: Vaccine passport plan ‘unworkable and baseless’

Leading voices from the UK pub and hospitality industry have branded vaccine passport entry plans as ‘unworkable and baseless’.

There have been suggestions that landlords may be required to check the vaccine status of patrons on entry, if they wish to operate without social distancing measures.

Leading figures within the British hospitality industry have lambasted any such suggestions, claiming that they are not only baseless in science, but unworkable in theory.

UKHopsitality chief executive, Kate Nicholls said: “It is simply unworkable, would cause conflict between staff and customers, and certainly result in breaches of equality rules.”

Whitehall sources has reportedly suggested that a ‘no vaccine, no entry’ policy in pubs may help drive jab uptake among younger generations, and enable sites to operate free of restrictions.

Boris Johnson failed to deny that plans were being considered when pressed in a commons committee

“I think that’s the kind of thing that may be up to the individual publicans, it may be up to the landlord.”

With the reopening of Brighton pubs – in an initial capacity – less than a month away, the fact that even the Prime Minister has no idea what may happen will give little comfort to those that would actually have to implement any measures – and ultimately deal with any fallout.

What is telling, however, is the rejection of liability that government sources seem set on establishing early doors.

Throughout the pandemic the UK Government has seemed reticent to support the hospitality industry at best, and dead set on destroying it at worst. The slow processing of much-needed support payments has been a consistent theme, as has the apparent refusal to negotiate real, lasting, rent reliefs.

The latest vaccine passport suggestions are worryingly reminiscent of winter’s calamitous reduced-opening policies, in terms of liability dodging.

Through the substantial meal rulings, social distancing enforcement, and restrictions on household meetings, the government allowed pubs to open only in name. Whitehall then offered little assistance to those facing huge budgetary shortfalls from measures, or even those that could plainly not operate in such a way – once the government had declared pubs open, costs were placed firmly at the feet of landlords.

The vaccine passport scheme could well work in a similar way. If there was an abstract scenario where venues could open for full operations, then government officials could claim that any sites that don’t do so are fully liable for loss of earnings incurred.

If the issue was to progress in this way it would not only be awful, but it would be depressingly unsurprising.

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