‘Infringing on Personal Rights’: Music Venue Chiefs Reject Boris’s Call for Vaccine Passports

A protestor displays an anti-vax placard during a 'Unite For Freedom' march against Covid-19 vaccinations and government lockdown restrictions, in Trafalgar Square, central London on May 29, 2021. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images

Music and nightclub operators have said that they will not be following Boris Johnson’s advice to introduce the vaccine passport scheme, with one saying the move could be construed as an infringement on peoples’ personal rights.

In Monday night’s announcement that the end of legal restrictions would come on Monday, July 19th, Prime Minister Johnson called on nightclubs and other venues catering to large crowds “to make use of the NHS Covid Pass – which shows proof of vaccination, a recent negative test or natural immunity – as a means of entry” — in other words, domestic vaccine passports.

Tom Bott, the founder of Signature Brew which operates bars and music venues, said he would not be demanding customers prove their immunity status, not only due to the lack of government guidance on how the scheme could be implemented, but because of questions of personal rights. Mr Bott told the Associated Press: “I don’t think it’s for us to curate and implement complicated policies to consumers that could be construed as infringing on their personal rights.

“We want to make the experience of going out a pleasurable and easy experience, and if you put up too many barriers or complications, some people are turned off.”

Likewise, the owner of REKOM UK, which runs 42 nightclubs, also told the news agency it would not be screening customers with the NHS Covid Pass. Chief Executive Peter Marks said that he would reopen his venues “at full capacity and without any requirement for a negative COVID test, something we believe would create a barrier to both customer enjoyment and getting the industry back on its feet”.

Pubs, bars, and restaurants are currently exempt from being recommended to use vaccine passports. However, reports from last week claim that the government is looking into rolling out the measures for the smaller hospitality venues by the autumn.

The Telegraph reported on Tuesday that sporting venues will also be advised to use the NHS Covid Pass and fans will be told to wear masks in indoor settings.

When the prospect of vaccine passes was raised in April, leaders in the hospitality industry had already said they would refuse to enforce the restrictions on their customers, citing “civil liberty and discrimination concerns”.

Domestic vaccine passports have also been protested against by the public, while more than 1,000 church leaders calling the prospect “one of the most dangerous policy proposals” in British history.

“This scheme has the potential to bring about the end of liberal democracy as we know it and to create a surveillance state in which the government uses technology to control certain aspects of citizens’ lives. As such, this constitutes one of the most dangerous policy proposals ever to be made in the history of British politics,” Christian leaders had said in April.

Warning: “We risk creating a two-tier society, a medical apartheid in which an underclass of people who decline vaccination are excluded from significant areas of public life.”

When Johnson made the statement on Monday, he was met with a backlash from privacy and freedom campaigners, including Big Brother Watch which warned against a “checkpoint society”.

Concerns raised by church leaders of a medical apartheid were echoed by Laurence Fox’s Reclaim Party on Tuesday, which said: “You’ve all been lied to. ‘Freedom-loving’ Boris isn’t so ‘freedom-loving’ after all. Instead, the Tories are creating a two-tier society in Britain.”


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