Scotland Times

Saturday, Jul 20, 2024

Nightclubs warn Covid passports will have 'devastating' impact

Nightclubs warn Covid passports will have 'devastating' impact

New rules requiring people to have Covid passports to enter nightclubs in England will have a "devastating impact", the industry has said.

The Night Time Industries Association said it came at the worst possible time, with the pre-Christmas period "absolutely crucial" for the sector.

The rules affect indoor venues holding more than 500 people and outdoor venues with a capacity of more than 4,000.

People will need an NHS Covid pass or negative lateral flow test to enter.

The new rules for nightclubs will come into force on Wednesday 15 December.

Covid passes, which have been implemented in Scotland and Wales, have caused a 30% and 26% drop-off in trade respectively, NTIA chief executive Michael Kill said.

"Vaccine passports will have a devastating impact on a sector already so bruised by the pandemic," Mr Kill said.

"The mixed public health messages this week that have been coming out of the government have arrived at the worst possible time - the pre-Christmas period is absolutely crucial for our sector. And now it is announced damaging vaccine passports are to be implemented.

"Far from 'saving' Christmas, the prime minister has given our sector the horrible present of more pain for businesses desperately trying to recoup losses from earlier in the pandemic."

A government report in June found that vaccine passports could have effects including discouraging people from attending venues. It concluded that, at the time, the impact of bringing them in would be out of proportion to the public health benefits.

Given that, Mr Kill questioned the timing and rationale of the government move. "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?"

Nightclub operator Rekom, which has more than 40 venues across the UK, said it was "disappointed, but sadly not surprised" by the government move.

Peter Marks, chairman of its UK board, said there was "no evidence anywhere in the world" that nightclubs had caused an increase in Covid cases.

"It is not only unjust to single out the late-night sector, but it will have no impact on transmission rates," he added.

'Makes no sense'

Jeremy Joseph, who owns the London nightclubs G-A-Y and Heaven, said the clubs had been "really busy" when they first reopened after previous restrictions, but "it has dropped in the last couple of weeks since the variant has come out, and you can see there has been more of a nervousness to go out".

He said his clubs had a chance to recover after previous restrictions were lifted, but any money they made was put aside.

"The whole way through this we've been walking on eggshells because we never know what is going to happen," Mr Joseph said. "I feel like I'm constantly in survival mode."

He said the new restrictions "don't make any sense".

"I've got three venues, and each is going to have different rules," he said. "It makes no sense. It's as if this government thinks that Covid will go: 'That venue has a capacity of under 500, so I won't go in there'."

"If I go to G-A-Y bar on Old Compton Street [in London] our capacity is 450 - there are no restrictions, so it's just: Carry on as normal."

Mr Joseph said he wasn't against vaccine passports, and that he was glad people could show lateral flow test results "so at least that doesn't alienate people, but you can't have one rule for one type of venue, and a different rule for another".


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