The requirement for nightclubs and venues hosting mass events to make use of vaccine passports is expected to be introduced in England by the end of this month, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi has confirmed.
"By the end of September, when everyone has had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated, for the large venues, venues that could end up causing a real spike in infections, where we need to use the certification process," Zahawi told Sky's Trevor Phillips on Sunday.
"I, as does the prime minister, want to make sure the whole economy remains open. The worst thing we can do for those venues is to have an open, shut, open, shut strategy."
Although the introduction of vaccine passports is potentially looming for businesses, a specific date from when the policy will become mandatory was not yet available when The Caterer approached a government spokesperson, nor confirmation on what constituted a ‘mass event' or ‘large venue'.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: "A scheme introducing mandatory Covid passports for certain venues and events will be unworkable, cause conflict between staff and customers and will force businesses to deal with complex equality rules. Operators may even be forced into a position where they have to let unvaccinated staff go, at a time when there are record levels of staff shortages across the industry.
"The hospitality sector has invested heavily to ensure customers are safe and we have proved venues are Covid secure. Introducing a scheme such as this will be a hammer blow to businesses such as nightclubs that were closed by the government for nearly 18 months, and have only recently been able to trade viably and make progress toward rebuilding and paying off accrued debts.
"Over the past year our sector has been devastated and businesses have only known forced closure or the most severe restrictions. This policy will be devastating for businesses that remain fragile and will certainly derail recovery and cost thousands of jobs."
In July Various Eateries' director Hugh Osmond wrote to the health secretary outlining plans to take legal action if Covid-status certification becomes mandatory for nightclub entry.
Earlier this year both the health secretary Sajid Javid and prime minister Boris Johnson said that vaccine passports would not be required to enter hospitality venues after a review into Covid-status certification recommended that the government abandon the idea, as it would "place new burdens and costs on those industries which have already suffered significantly", would have a "serious impact on businesses and individuals" and could even infringe rights and be discriminatory.
The Scottish government is also planning to require the use of vaccine passports for entry into nightclubs and some large public events from later this month, with a vote due to take place in the Scottish Parliament on 9 September.
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