Vaccine passports or social distancing both bad for business, warns trade body

By Restaurant

- Last updated on GMT

Do I need a vaccine passport to visit a pub or restaurant social distancing

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Pubs and restaurants will be put in a tricky position post lockdown if potential plans to scrap social-distancing rules and demand customers present Covid passports come into place, UKHospitality is warning.

The trade body has welcomed Boris Johnson’s announcement that the Government is “some way off finalising any plans for Covid certification in the UK” and that vaccine passports are unlikely to be made voluntary in pubs and restaurants.

"We are reassured by the comments of the Prime Minister regarding the use of vaccination certification in hospitality. This would have been very difficult to implement and placed a huge amount of additional stress on an industry that has suffered enough, says Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality.

“Such a scheme would have hindered the ability of thousands of hospitality businesses to return to sustainable levels of trade, to recover and to be viable, and we urge the government to avoid this at every stage, and at all costs.”

However, it has expressed concern that the requirement to keep people at least one metre apart may be lifted for venues that check people’s Covid status before admitting them, according to the Government’s Roadmap Reviews Update.

The document states that the Social Distancing Review is exploring whether existing rules, designed to limit virus transmission, could be relaxed in different settings.

The review is looking at key baseline measures, including how and when to safely lift or amend the one-metre plus rule and related Covid-secure measures. The extent of any relaxation in social distancing measures is linked to the questions being explored by the Covid-Status Certification Review - including whether Covid-status certification can enable changes to social distancing, it says.

Nicholls says the move would put businesses in a difficult situation, with neither option tenable.

“This is the concern - accept passports and the significant costs of compliance with them (and the customer opprobrium) or live with having capacity and revenue suppressed below break even,” she says, adding that both options threaten their viability given that the business rates holiday ends at the end of June.

Later this month the Government is to launch an event pilot scheme that is designed to see whether the use of Covid-status certification can allow mass events such as concerts and sporting matches to take place.

As part of the initial list of pilots, a circa 3,000 person event will take place at Circus Nightclub in Liverpool for an indoor club night on Friday 30 April.

Any such scheme for Covid-19 certification in the UK would not be brought in until June, the Government has said.

However, more than 70 MPs have signed a letter condemning the proposal as “divisive and discriminatory”. The signatories include about 40 Tories, which could be enough to overturn the government’s majority if Labour votes against the move.

Ministers are said to believe that it is was better for the Government to allow Covid-19 status check using the existing NHS app rather than for the private sector to institute their own checks.

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