‘We Won’t be Doing it’: Hospitality Firms Reject Boris Johnson’s Vaccine Passport Scheme

Police officers wearing protective face coverings to combat the spread of the coronavirus, speak with customers enjoying drinks at tables outside the pubs and bars in the Soho area of London, on April 12, 2021 as coronavirus restrictions are eased across the country in step two of the government's roadmap …
TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images

British businesses in the hospitality sector have bucked at Prime Minster Boris Johnson’s scheme to require vaccine passports for their customers, saying that they will refuse to enforce the measures.

Writing in a letter to the PM, the owners of over sixty restaurants, night clubs, and other hospitality venues have announced that they will not adopt the health pass programme, regardless of whether it is mandated by the government or not.

The letter, which was seen by The Telegraph said: “We will not be forcing our patrons to show us any documentation referring to health status to gain entry.

“We are UK licensed premises and event promoters that have struggled at this difficult time for everyone. We have no axe to grind politically and many of us think the vaccine roll out has been tremendous. We also know that, for many reasons, some will not have a vaccine.

“Further, we do not believe it is right that we as premises and promoters should demand to see proof of medical records or health status. The majority of people in the UK have chosen to be vaccinated.

“There are many practical and logistical issues for us, alongside civil liberty and discrimination considerations more broadly for society, if venues or events insist on seeing health documents.”

The vow from the hospitality business owner comes as a part of the “Open for All” charter, which is expected to see other hospitality businesses sign on in the near future.

The pre-emptive strike from the industry against any potential vaccine passport mandate from the government also directly contradicts claims from ministers that private businesses may adopt the scheme without intervention from the state.

Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi predicted in November that businesses would require immunity passports for their customers even if the government doesn’t make them mandatory, saying that once a digital health pass app is in place: “You’ll probably find that restaurants, bars, and cinemas and other venues — sports venues — will probably also use that system”.

The waffling nature of the government’s vaccine passport push was demonstrated by Mr Zahawi just six weeks later, when he denied that the government was planning to introduce vaccine passports at all, saying: “We have no plans to introduce vaccine passports.”

A review on the issue of digital health passes is currently being headed up by Cabinet Minister Michael Gove, who also previously flatly denied that the government would introduce such a scheme domestically.

While Prime Minister Boris Johnson has played down the idea of introducing health papers during the initial phases of his reopening plan, he has left the door open to the idea in the future, saying that vax passes are likely to become a “feature of our lives”.

A “trial run” of a vaccine passport system is expected to be launched in Britain in the coming weeks, set to be tested at several large-scale events, such as football matches, the World Snooker Championship, amongst others.

The potential app, would log the vaccination status, results from a negative coronavirus test, or proof of recovery from the virus demonstrated by antibodies in the bloodstream. An introduction of vaccine passports would not be able to be introduced in Britain until at least June 21, when lockdown restrictions are supposedly supposed to be lifted in full.

The organiser of the letter against the health pass idea, the co-founder of Night Time Industries Association, Alan Miller said: “The British people have been diligent and remarkable over this last year, and we’ve all waited for so long to get back to normal.

“We were told in January that vaccines were our way out, and that we were on a one-way road to freedom. It is a far cry from freedom if we are put in the position where pubs, clubs, festivals, shows and venues of any kind are forced to demand health papers. We won’t be doing it.”

Follow Kurt Zindulka on Twitter here @KurtZindulka


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