Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), has cautioned against the widespread introduction of COVID-19 vaccine passports in England.
Ministers are expected to sign off on new COVID-19 rules to introduce vaccine certification in England, according to reports from the Guardian.
The so-called ‘Plan B’ has been discussed frequently amid rising cases of the Omicron variant, with the report suggesting that restrictions could be imposed in England as early as Wednesday night.
Along with vaccine certification, with attendees at large events having to prove they have received both jabs against coronavirus, working from home could be introduced once again.
Kill said: “Vaccine passports have a damaging impact on Night Time Economy businesses, as we have seen in other parts of the UK where they have been implemented.
“Trade is down 30% in Scotland and 26% in Wales following their implementation. The UK Government has twice ruled our vaccine passports before twice changing their mind. The pre-Christmas period is crucial for our sector and reports today of ‘Plan B’ including vaccine passports will have a devastating impact on a sector already so bruised by the pandemic.”
Kill suggested the switch to ‘Plan B’ could be an attempt by the Government to deflect the current furore over an apparent Christmas party held last year at Downing Street that is claimed to have broken Covid rules.
Kill added: “The Government’s own report on the subject concluded that vaccine passports wouldn’t even have a significant impact on virus transmission. You do, therefore, have to question the timing and rationale for this announcement. Is this sound evidence-based public policy making or is this an attempt to move the news agenda on from a damaging story about the Downing Street Christmas party? Nightclubs and bars must not be thrown under the bus for the Prime Minister to save his own skin.
“And of course these businesses, who have already sacrificed so much during the pandemic, will be asking – ‘why are we being asked to carry more of the burden when it seemed that the most senior Government officials felt they didn’t need to do their bit?’”
CEO of LIVE, a live music and entertainment body, Greg Parmley also criticised the move and said: “Yet again the Government is treating the live music sector with contempt – privately briefing out stories that have huge implications for an industry that is just getting back on its feet.
“If the UK Government does insist on introducing vaccine passports this week – on top of the tried, tested and workable systems that music venues already have in place – they risk creating an unjustifiable double standard which allows all-day pub crawls in crowded bars to take place without the need to prove COVID-19 status, while forcing live music venues to use certification.”
He added: “Government must follow the lead of Wales and Scotland and allow people to use a negative test as an alternative means of entry. Evidence from the use of vaccine passports in Scotland shows that, without this option, some venues face devastating impacts.”