Following reports that the UK government will end all COVID Passport requirements in England later this month, the Night Time Industries Association has called for a similar move in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid reportedly told MPs last week that although hospitals remain under “significant pressure” as a result of COVID-related hospitalisations, a steady decline in the number of new COVID-19 cases means current rules seeking to restrict the spread of the coronavirus should be relaxed in England later this month.
That will include the removal of the requirement on clubs and some other venues to check the COVID Passports of customers at point of entry, only allowing in those who are vaccinated or have a recent negative lateral flow test result. Many clubs and venues have been critical of the impact the COVID Passport requirement has on their businesses, both in terms of extra logistics and lost trade.
Those requirements actually went into force in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland before England, and it’s not clear how long they are likely to stay in place in those countries, where more extensive COVID restrictions have generally been the norm.
Indeed, clubs and some venues are currently back in shutdown in those parts of the UK. Restrictions start to lift on outdoor events in Scotland this week with the hope indoor events will resume later this month. In Wales restrictions on clubs and venues should lift on 28 Jan, while restrictions in Northern Ireland are still being reviewed.
However, COVID Passports could still be a requirement in those countries even once everything is fully open again. But the NTIA is calling for the removal of compulsory COVID Passport checks all over the UK.
The trade group’s CEO Michael Kill said in a statement this weekend: “With the devastating losses in hospitality and night time economy businesses over the festive period, and effects of limited cash flow being felt across the UK, our industry has been placed in an extremely fragile state. [COVID] Passports play a considerable part in the continual trading losses associated with this difficult period, with businesses reporting up to 30% loss in trade directly related to this mitigation”.
“Frustratingly, at no point have we been privy to evidence or justification to substantiate the decision behind adopting this mitigation, exacerbated further by the data emerging from all four UK territories”, he added. “This scheme has been damaging for the late night sector in particular, without ever being demonstrated to achieve the purported objectives, and it is now time to draw a line under it and move on with a consistent approach to other parts of the UK”.
He conclude: “Experts believe it will take several years for the hospitality and night time economy sectors to recover, but what is important today is for the government to set aside their political agenda and put people and businesses at the sharpest end of the pandemic first”.
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