The Government’s plans for proof of vaccination requirements for nightclubs and other venues are an “absolute shambles”, a leading industry body has said.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi announced proof of full vaccination will be required as a condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues from the autumn.
Mr Zahawi said a negative Covid-19 test would soon “no longer be sufficient” proof that a person was Covid-safe, adding by the end of September everyone aged 18 and over will have had the opportunity to be jabbed.
Chief scientific adviser Sir Patrick Vallance warned nightclubs could be “potential super spreading events”.
Michael Kill, chief executive officer of the Night Time Industries Association accused the Government of “another chaotic U-turn”.
“So, ‘freedom day’ for nightclubs lasted around 17 hours then,” he said, noting the announcement came on the day nightclubs across England reopened.
“The announcement from the Prime Minister that Covid passports will be made mandatory for nightclubs in September comes after his Health Secretary said only one week ago that they would not be compulsory. What an absolute shambles.
“Leaving aside the fact that this is yet another chaotic U-turn that will leave nightclubs who have been planning for reopening for months will now have to make more changes to the way they operate – this is still a bad idea.
“80% of nightclubs have said they do not want to implement Covid passports, worrying about difficulties with enforcing the system and a reduction in spontaneous consumers, as well as being put at a competitive disadvantage with pubs and bars that aren’t subject to the same restrictions and yet provide similar environments.”
UK music industry body LIVE said small music venues should be treated the same as similar-sized bars and restaurants.
Live chief executive Greg Parmley said: “The Government has had several different positions on Covid certification in the last six months and we will need to see more detail before we can understand the full impact for the live music industry.
“Many festivals and large venues are already adopting some level of Covid certification, and as responsible event organisers, will continue to do so.
“What we are absolutely clear about, however, is that venues such as small music clubs should not be treated any differently to other similar-sized hospitality businesses such as bars and restaurants when it comes to the need for Covid vaccine certification.”
The Music Venue Trust said the Government must introduce a “workable, usable and accurate certification process” that is “in wide use across society and is accepted as normal and necessary by the public”.
It added: “Singling out nightclubs, or music venues, or any other cultural activity, as spaces required to deliver such a policy won’t work without the tools to do it and without addressing the obvious point that most grassroots music venues have lower capacities and lower total attendees per day than pubs.
“We note that the aim is to ‘boost vaccine uptake among young people’. The aim of certification should be the safety of the public.”
Peter Marks, chief executive of REKOM UK, which owns 42 nightclubs including chains Pryzm, Eden and Fiction, said: “To say we are disappointed by this Government’s U-turn is an understatement.”
He added: “We are no more than a political football. Mandatory Covid passports may make sense one day once the entire adult population has been offered vaccines, but does Government really think this threat will entice the ‘vaccine wary’ to take the vaccine? They will just stay later in the pubs and hold their parties in their houses.”