Vaccine passports branded 'unworkable' in pubs and clubs

Vaccine passports branded ‘unworkable’ to help save struggling pubs and clubs because drinkers in their 20s won’t get their jabs until too late in the year

  • Senior ministers are urging Boris Johnson sanction immunisation passports
  • Claim it would help get hard-hit clubs, cinemas and theatres reopened sooner 
  • Industry bosses  say passports won’t help them claw back their pandemic loses 
  • Key demographic – 18 to 24-year-olds – won’t be vaccinated later in the year

‘Unworkable’ vaccine passports won’t save the hard-hit hospitality industry this summer as drinkers in their 20s can’t get the jab until Autumn, bosses have warned.

Senior ministers are urging Boris Johnson to sanction official documents showing a person’s immunisation status as a way of getting clubs, cinemas and theatres reopened sooner. 

But leaders in the entertainment industry say vaccine passports won’t help them claw back their pandemic loses in the peak summer season as their key demographic – under 25s – won’t be vaccinated much later in the year.

The Government’s ambitious jab programme aims to have every over-50 vaccinated by May.

But the other 21 million adults over the age of 18 and not clinically vulnerable are not scheduled to get the jab until October – after summer season where bars, pubs and clubs are usually at their busiest.

‘Unworkable’ vaccine passports won’t save the hard-hit hospitality industry this summer as its target age demographic won’t get the jab until the Autumn, bosses have warned (file image)

Senior ministers are urging Boris Johnson to sanction official documents showing a person’s immunisation status as a way of getting clubs, cinemas and theatres reopened

Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said it is ‘up to businesses’ to decide if they want to require proof of vaccination before serving customers

What are vaccine passports and will they work? 

What are vaccine passports? 
Vaccine passports are official documents showing a person’s immunisation status.

The Prime Minister has accepted that official documents showing a person’s immunisation status are going to be needed for foreign travel.

But he has so far refused to allow them to be used domestically to enter venues that show live music, plus pubs, cinemas and theatres, on discrimination grounds.

But vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said it is ‘up to businesses’ to decide if they want to require proof of vaccination before serving customers. 

Will they help venues reopen sooner? 

Cabinet ministers are urging Mr Johnson to sanction vaccine passports from ministers as they claim it will help hospitality reopen sooner.

A senior minister told the Times today that vaccine certificates could allow a sped-up return to high business levels.

‘We’re talking about industries that are dying here. In terms of getting live music, theatre and other parts of the entertainment industry back on their feet, it seems an obvious thing to do once the majority of people have been vaccinated.’ 

What  are the concerns about vaccine passports? 

Mr Johnson is said to oppose Covid passports amid fears that millions of Britons could be cut off from the rest of the population – creating a ‘two tier’ society.

And Government sources told the Times setting up such a system would be a ‘bureaucratic nightmare’. 

Phil Clapp, chief executive of the UK Cinema Association, said requiring proof of receipt of a coronavirus jab presented ‘a range of practical and legal problems’.

Mr Johnson has not completely ruled out using domestic immunity passports, saying ministers will ‘look at everything’.

But vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said it is ‘up to businesses’ to decide if they want to require proof of vaccination before serving customers.

Chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association Michael Kill told the Daily Telegraph: ‘Because people are not going to be vaccinated in age groups that we attract, the idea of vaccine passports won’t be helpful. 

‘If you are 23 you might not be vaccinated until August or September so that doesn’t really help the industry.’

Some festival organisers say they will look for vaccination proof ‘on the phone’ from attendees later this year. 

General secretary of the Association of Festival Organisers Steve Heap said looking for jab proof will be a ‘clear and safe way’ to return to live venues – as rapid testing ‘will be very difficult to operate at the gate of a festival’.

It follows research which found that the virus is now spreading the most among young people – with Covid most common among those aged 18 to 24. 

Meanwhile, Mr Johnson is facing a Cabinet rebellion over his refusal to sanction vaccine passports.

The Prime Minister has accepted that official documents showing a person’s immunisation status are going to be needed for foreign travel.

But he has so far refused to allow them to be used domestically to enter venues that show live music, plus pubs, cinemas and theatres, on discrimination grounds. 

Mr Johnson’s roadmap out of lockdown – due to be unveiled on Monday – is expected to allow pubs to reopen in May with a maximum of two households allowed to sit together indoors. The rule of six will apply outside. 

A senior minister told the Times that vaccine certificates could allow a sped-up return to high business levels.

‘We’re talking about industries that are dying here. In terms of getting live music, theatre and other parts of the entertainment industry back on their feet, it seems an obvious thing to do once the majority of people have been vaccinated.’ 

Earlier this week, a boss warned that the use of Covid ‘vaccine passports’ to help businesses reopen post-lockdown could put venues at risk from possible claims for discrimination.

Phil Clapp, chief executive of the UK Cinema Association, said requiring proof of receipt of a coronavirus jab presented ‘a range of practical and legal problems’. 

Meanwhile Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab cooled calls for ‘jabs for jobs’ plans to allow employers to insist on vaccines before staff can return to work. 

A senior minister told the Times that vaccine certificates could allow a sped-up return to high business levels for busineses like live music venues (London’s Brixton Academy pictured in 2018)

The Prime Minister has accepted that official documents showing a person’s immunisation status are going to be needed for foreign travel. But he has so far refused to allow them to be used domestically to enter venues that show live music, plus pubs, cinemas and theatres, on discrimination grounds.

Pimlico Plumbers boss Charlie Mullins says ‘no jab, no job’ contacts for new staff will be rolled out ‘in two to three months’

Pimlico Plumbers boss Charlie Mullins today confirmed all new starters at his £50million business would have to take a Covid jab to get a job.

The outspoken owner – who is worth at least £70million – has thrashed out the new papers with his lawyers to make the booster mandatory for all new hires.

And he said he doubted many would object to the new terms, adding ‘people would crawl across the snow naked to get a vaccine at the moment’.

His firm is exploring how it might modify existing staff contracts although he insisted no one would be forced to receive a vaccine or be fired over the issue. 

Mullins. 68, said: ‘We’ve obviously been talking to our lawyers and they’re very happy that we can add this proposal to any new workers that start with us once the vaccine is rolled out.

‘We are in regular contract with our staff from our HR department and I think people would crawl across the snow naked to get a vaccine at the moment. 

 ‘We’ll be using the new contacts two to three months from now. 

‘When people come along for a job with us if they’re not happy to sign that then that’s their choice but they certainly won’t be given a job with Pimlico Plumbers. 

The comments, made in an interview with Radio 4, came as a legal director admitted he had been contacted by other clients exploring the concept.

The cabinet minister said the vaccine was not mandatory while appearing on LBC, adding: ‘The precise relations and communications between employers and employees I think are a matter that we would want to leave to responsible employers.

‘But what I am saying is that it is not the law of the land that you have to have the vaccine.’

Bosses in the care home sector as well as large international groups including an energy firm are making ‘risky’ arrangements by insisting staff must be jabbed, top lawyers warned.

The move could mean both prospective and current employees would need to have the coronavirus vaccine to work at an organisation.

Asked about businesses who introduce a scheme, vaccines minister Mr Zahawi said it was ‘up to them’.

Pimlico Plumbers also said it would have a ‘no jab, no job’ attitude towards new workers, the FT reports.

The newspaper spoke to law firms – which refused to be named – which said some companies were already looking at getting current employees vaccinated.

A lawyer in the City of London said putting clauses in contracts to force people to be jabbed was risky but easier to defend in the care sector to protect patients.

Another said some multinational companies – such as a large energy firm – are considering the idea.

Mr Zahawi earlier said that the Government was ‘not planning a domestic passport’.

He told BBC Breakfast: ‘It’s up to businesses what they do, but we don’t yet have the evidence of the effect of vaccines on transmission.’

Downing Street slapped down Dominic Raab on Sunday after the Foreign Secretary suggested documents could be required before going into shops.

Mr Zahawi told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme yesterday: ‘It’s a combination of rapid testing as well as the mass vaccination programme that will get our economy back on its feet and venues open again.’

Meanwhile, senior ministers have reportedly urged Boris Johnson to look into Covid certificate schemes to get social venues reopened.   

Bosses in the care home sector as well as large international groups including an energy firm are making arrangements, top lawyers warned (file photo)

One senior minister told the Times: ‘We’re talking about industries that are dying here.  

‘In terms of getting live music, theatre and other parts of the entertainment industry back on their feet, it seems an obvious thing to do once the majority of people have been vaccinated.’

However, Mr Johnson is said to oppose Covid passports amid fears that millions of Britons could be cut off from the rest of the population – creating a ‘two tier’ society.

Parents will be told to test their teenage children for Covid TWICE a week when schools reopen

Parents will be told to use lateral flow tests to check their children for Covid-19 twice a week when schools reopen, reports say.

The government is expected to launch the plan for secondary school students during term time amid a phased return to the classroom.

Education unions have also agreed with ministers for institutions to mass test on one occasion – at the beginning of term.

It comes as reports said secondary pupils will have to wear masks when they are not in their class ‘bubbles’ once schools reopen.

The phased return of pupils is expected to start from March 8, with some year groups starting later so they can all be tested.

Sources told the Telegraph larger institutions – mostly secondary schools – could need two weeks to check all students. 

Teaching unions have previously said the idea of mass testing schoolchildren was ‘inoperable’ and ‘ridiculous’.

The Association of School and College Leaders called for testing kits to be sent home to avoid schools being turned into ‘field hospitals’.

It is understood schools will test students once when they reopen and parents will take over term time testing after.

General secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders Geoff Barton said: ‘We think that is a good idea.

‘It reinforces the responsibility for families rather than assuming that bits of the state, like schools, will carry out the tests.’ 

And Government sources told the Times setting up such a system would be a ‘bureaucratic nightmare’. 

The Government is preparing its roadmap out of lockdown with curbs on pubs, restaurants and hotels eased at four-weekly intervals starting with a ‘limited’ Easter holiday – but it could take until July to return to ‘broadly normal’.  

The blueprint being discussed by ministers and industry leaders would allow restrictions to be eased only at four-weekly intervals.

The gradual approach means traders will have to wait until at least Easter – early April – for a limited restart.

This is likely to include the reopening of holiday lets and larger hotels, with dining rooms still closed. Sports such as golf and tennis could resume.

Pubs, bars and restaurants will have to wait until early May under the plans, with a maximum of two households allowed to sit together indoors and the rule of six applying outside.

The next stage, in early June, would see the rules for pubs and restaurants relaxed with the rule of six extended indoors.

The hospitality and domestic holiday industries could be allowed to return to normal in July – with social distancing.

It comes as the Government is set to unveil a new slogan and the PM plans to send testing kits to millions of homes and businesses as lockdown is eased.

‘Are you ready? Get testing. Go’ will reportedly be a new campaign launched ahead of the reopening of schools next month.

Ministers will not make a final decision on the roadmap timetable until this weekend when they are presented with the latest data on the spread of the virus.

Mr Johnson will unveil the plan on Monday. But the blueprint is the most detailed outline of the Government’s thinking so far. 

It appears to confirm that – contrary to the demands of some Tory MPs – the Prime Minister is determined to be cautious, with plenty of ‘headroom’ to adjust to any resurgence of the virus.

The fact that the rule of six and social distancing are expected to remain in force until well into the summer indicates the extent of the worries over new mutations.

The Mail can also reveal that office staff are expected to be told to keep working from home.

He is not expected to set a firm date for when employees should return to their desks, meaning that the ‘work from home if you can’ message will continue for the foreseeable future.

The rapid roll-out of the vaccine has boosted optimism that Mr Johnson will announce that the long winter lockdown can be lifted sooner than expected. 

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