Vaccine passport debate reignited by prime minister's comments but hospitality trade bodies warn of confusion and inequality

25 March 2021 by
Vaccine passport debate reignited by prime minister's comments but hospitality trade bodies warn of confusion and inequality

The issue of whether hospitality venues could require customers to prove they have been vaccinated has been raised again after comments by the prime minister.

Speaking to a Liaison Committee of MPs yesterday, Boris Johnson said the concept of vaccine certificates "should not be totally alien to us".

When queried if it could apply to pubs he added: "I think that's the kind of thing that may be up to individual publicans. It may be up to the landlord."

The government is conducting a review into the role Covid status certificates could have in reopening the economy after previously ruling them out.

It could prove a complex issue for hospitality with considerations around legality, staff safety and enforcement.

The major trade bodies have all expressed opposition to the idea. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls warned such a scheme could create "confusion and inequality" among businesses, customers and staff.

She said: "It is crucial that visiting the pub and other parts of hospitality should not be subject to mandatory vaccination certification. It is simply unworkable, would cause conflict between staff and customers and almost certainty result in breaches of equality rules.

"Even introduced on a voluntary basis, vaccine passports have the potential to cause huge amounts of confusion among businesses, customers and staff. It could potentially give rise to a two-tier system of viability among businesses and a situation in which young staff members, due to be vaccinated last, are able to work in a pub, but not able to visit it socially."

The British Institute of Innkeeping said vaccine passports would place an "unfair" burden on hospitality that would not be shared by other areas of the economy upon reopening, such as retail.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA), said such a scheme would not "appropriate or necessary" after the sector had gone to "extraordinary lengths" to prepare for reopening.

She added: "We will continue to work closely with the government in developing guidelines for a safe and sustainable reopening in April and May."

Photo: Shutterstock

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