ABSOLUTLEY FARCIAL: Vaccine passports reaction
Soho on Albert Road, Image: LDRS
A club owner has said that plans to introduce vaccine passports for clubs are “absolutely farcical” and will damage the leisure industry.
At the council’s Health Scrutiny Panel on Tuesday, September 7, South Tees public health chief Mark Adams said that he thought that clubbers would need a vaccine passport by mid-October.
The owner of Middlesbrough club Soho, John Taylor, is opposed to the new measures and feels like his sector is being penalised.
He said: “It’s absolutely farcical, it will be damaging to the trade, cause issues regarding policing it, and the local council aren’t aware of how it fully operates.
“My understanding is if you’re 18-years-old and six months you do not need a passport but seven months you do need one.
“I think it’s very detrimental to the trade to be honest. I oppose these measures – there are festivals going on at the moment, large crowds gathering, and protestors in the street. It feels once again the leisure sector is being penalised.”
The government has said that it will allow 18-year-olds six months to have both jabs, meaning they don’t need a vaccine passport until then.
Mr Taylor also said that he might need to hire more staff if these measures were introduced.
He added: “I just think it’s unworkable and I think it’s very late in the day to say we are going to bring out passports but they haven’t given us any details after they mentioned it months and months ago.”
Recently, Mr Adams said, while he thinks it’s a reasonable policy, there had been a “scattergun approach” to introducing vaccine passports.
The managing director of The Empire in Middlesbrough, Ashley Wem, agreed that there has been a lack of guidance.
He said: “I agree it’s been a scattergun approach by the government with no thought or consultation taken at our level.
“The ‘nightclubs’ issue appears unresolvable, and we don’t know how government intends to administer it, given that there isn’t a legal definition of a nightclub.
“For businesses without the staffing support and the space to accommodate the door checks this involves, it is an entirely different picture and we feel government has been too willing to listen to the top end of the industry without listening to the everyday experience of queues, entry control etc for smaller venues.”
Mr Wem is also concerned that it could conflict with equalities legislation should the measures be brought in.
He added: “Also there is no sign of an exemption certificate, and without one it is highly unlikely that this policy has the required legal standing since equality legislation prevents business owners from demanding evidence of a disability that might prevent access or an obstacle to access.
“Effectively, what this means is that if you are asked to implement this policy, anyone can tell you they are exempt and you cannot ask them to prove it nor can you deny them access – both are in breach of Equalities.
“Don’t get us wrong we are not saying it’s a good or bad idea just we feel a lot more work and consultation has to be done for this to be implemented and legal.”
Co-owner of KU in Stockton, Jimmy Beck, has said his venue would make vaccine passports work if they are implemented but has said that clubs are not being left with much time to prepare.
He added: “For something that’s going to have a massive impact on our industry, it’s all very last minute and looking like a lot to organise in a short space of time with no clarity on what we actually have to do.
“The last 18 months has been a rollercoaster but if this is what we have got to do to stay open then we will deal with it like everything else. Hopefully, customers will be patient and come out earlier to allow us time to get them into the venue.”
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said that he was expecting vaccine passports at the end of September, which is even earlier than Mr Adams predicts.
He added that checking vaccine status was the best way to ensure that clubs could open “safely and sustainably” without having to deal with an “open-shut-open-shut strategy”.
Words: Emily Craigie, Local Democracy Reporter
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