Pubs 'outraged' by vaccine passport proposals

Saleha Riaz
·3-min read
The pub industry has hit out at the government for proposing to 'burden' it with vaccine passports and other 'over-complicated' rules around reopening. Photo: Getty Images
The pub industry has hit out at the government for proposing to 'burden' it with vaccine passports and other 'over-complicated' rules around reopening. Photo: Getty Images

The pub industry has hit out at the government for proposing to "burden" it with vaccine passports and other "over-complicated" rules around reopening.

In a rare joint open letter to prime minister Boris Johnson, UKHospitality, the British Beer & Pub Association and the British Institute of Innkeeping have "stated their outrage by the threat of more impositions on pub businesses."

The letter said pubs were relieved to hear that all restrictions would be removed by 21 June and that they would be allowed to reopen, as per Johnson's roadmap to ease restrictions. 

"However, it now seems the hospitality industry could be burdened with vaccine passports, over-complicated test & trace rules and an inability not able to take payments indoors at reopening – a triple whammy for hard-pressed publicans who have been forcibly closed for months." the letter said.

This comes after Johnson's suggestion that pubs can choose to stop patrons from entering if they have not been vaccinated was dismissed as “unworkable” by UKHospitality.

Johnson announced that Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister, would lead a review of 'COVID status certificates,' some five weeks ago. 

The letter said the review "looks likely to recommend that pubs and other hospitality venues must demand immunity proof from people, to allow them to enter – with the threat of fines for venues if non-compliant. This could prevent millions of young people visiting the pub for months."

The industry has also criticised the government's decision to ask all customers sign into the pub on entry, rather than just one member of the group as was previously the case. 

"This will add more confusion and inconvenience for customers and staff," it said.

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The pub representatives have said: “Pubs will already be trading at a loss when they reopen with all the existing restrictions and COVID-secure measures in place. Adding further disproportionate and discriminatory measures threatens the very survival of thousands of businesses.

They said if the government "insists on restricting our ability to trade " then it will need to further extend business rates holidays through to October and offer more furlough support.

Meanwhile, The Times has reported that ministers are thinking of putting together a list of “essential” places, such as hospitals and supermarkets, where vaccination passports would not be used.

Johnson may next week announce that "they will become a feature of British life," the report said.

Ministers in the past have said that forcing people to reveal such information was "discriminatory" and against British values.

Earlier this week, Labour leader Keir Starmer told The Telegraph COVID-19 passports would be against "British instinct." He said it was a complex issue and that he would scrutinise government proposals before deciding whether to oppose them.

Meanwhile, a survey by Ipsos MORI of more than 8,300 people in the UK found around 62% would be fine with using vaccine passports to get into a pub or restaurant.

Some 78% were in favour of such documents to travel abroad or to visit a relative living in a care home.

Johnson had announced that retailers and outdoor hospitality venues may reopen from 12 April in England, as the country continues its vaccination rollout. More than 30 million people in the country have received at least one dose of the coronavirus jab.

The pandemic has hit the hospitality sector hard. A report in November said almost three quarters of UK pubs and restaurants expect to shut permanently in 2021.

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