The Prime Minister’s suggestion that vaccine passports could be a requirement for visiting pubs has been slammed as ‘idiotic’ by pub landlords.
Speaking to MPs, Boris Johnson said it could be down to individual pub owners to decide whether proof of a vaccine is needed to enter their premises.
But many who work in the hospitality industry have criticised the suggestion, saying that it’s a ‘daft idea’ and ‘unworkable’.
Several industry figures and MPs have also pointed out that introducing vaccine passports in this way would be a huge blow to people too young to have been vaccinated.
Lauren Irlam, of Northern Quarter cafe Nibble, said that many pubs would not even be able to afford to implement such a measure.
She said: “They need to get open and trading again to survive, it’s an extra thing to staff and police.
“Depending on how long it takes to vaccinate everyone, they’d have to cut out lots of their big spending age groups to do so!”
Fellow business owner Elaine Wrigley, who is behind Atlas gin bar, added: “It’s not our job to police public vaccinations. We’ve had onerous restrictions on us, particularly in Manchester, for a year, and kept all of our customers and team safe.
“You’re safer in Atlas than you are in Asda. The government have to stop penalising us and let us trade.”
As it stands, outdoor pub spaces are allowed to reopen on April 12, followed by indoor pub spaces from May 17, and a total relaxation of social contact laws expected by June 21.
Publican Adam Brooks said that any restrictions placed on trading after June would be an ‘utter disgrace’.
He said: “Pub ‘passports’ will cost pubs a fortune in manning front doors, cause flash points & aggression towards us, discriminate.
“Anything but normal trading past June 21st is an utter DISGRACE. Once every adult has been OFFERED vaccination, the Government & Health care system has done its job.
“The day the Government mandates pubs to HAVE to check vaccination status at the front doors of pubs, is the day the industry finally dies. Absolutely moronic, unworkable and truly frightening that MPs could be so stupid to even discuss.”
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William Lees-Jones, managing director of Manchester brewery J.W. Lees, spoke to BBC Breakfast this morning, saying: “Hopefully it’s Boris just having a bit of a moment, because it’s a really daft idea.
“It’s not something the government have consulted the industry on at all. It’s up there with the substantial meals and the curfew as something that’s not really been thought through.
“Most of the teams working in our sites won’t have been vaccinated, so if you can’t get in if you’ve not had a vaccination, we can’t open!”
UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls 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.
“A vaccine passport system may be useful in opening up international travel more quickly and it might play a role at large-scale events in the near future, but it should not be used for day-to-day hospitality.
“A vaccine passport scheme in pubs and the wider hospitality sector would not be the liberating move the Prime Minister believes it to be. It would see further restrictions imposed at the worst possible time.
“Pubs and other hospitality businesses have spent a significant amount of time, energy and money ensuring their premises are safe and ready to welcome customers back in April and May.
“We need to throw off the shackles of Coronavirus in line with the Government’s roadmap; not impose more checks on our ability to socialise and do business.”
Ed Miliband said on Sky News this morning: “It feels a little bit like a policy made on the hoof. Questions do abound.
“There are big questions about whether this should really be left to landlords to make the decision, and what about people – pregnant women and others – who are not necessarily getting the vaccine, what about young people to whom the vaccine won’t have been rolled out yet?
“There are big questions. We’ve got to follow the science, and if this is what the science demands we will look sympathetically at it, but I think the Government have got a lot of questions they need to answer about this policy.”
Greg Mulholland, chairman of the British Pub Confederation, told The Sun: “We were very happy pubs were doing their bit to help with test and trace.
“But for the Government to abdicate responsibility and ask pubs to make a moral judgement – it’s just not acceptable.
“Pubs can’t open with any sort of normality until June.
“So on top of having to take on extra staff to serve people at tables, the idea pubs can take on staff to act as door staff for vaccine passports is absurd.”