Prime Minister Boris Johnson has shelved plans to introduce Covid passports in pubs and restaurants this summer.
The PM has moved the focus of the highly contentious scheme away from the hospitality sector, according to media reports.
Officials have been instructed to concentrate instead on developing a system that will enable foreign travel and the reopening of sectors like theatres, sports venues and nightclubs.
Until now ‘vaccine passports’ hadn’t been ruled out for pubs, and a review in March said they “could play a role in reducing social distancing requirements” in hospitality, such as allowing pubs to drop the two-metre rule from June 21 at the earliest.
Speaking last month, the PM did not rule out the notion of requiring certification in the pub and said the scheme “should not be totally alien to us”. However, the proposals drew a angry backlash from Tory MPs and the hospitality industry, who said they would be another “burden” for venues already struggling.
The review admitted Covid passports would have “significant implications” for pubs and “this will be further considered in consultation with industry.”
And last week the Prime Minister indicated he was moving away from the idea of passports for pubs, saying they would “just” be for industries that “proved very tough to open last year” – like nightclubs and big events.
He told a No10 press briefing: “What we are looking at, what I think any responsible government would look at – is how we use evidence of people’s Covid status just to open up some of those things that are really tough, and did prove very tough to open last year.”
Earlier this month Alan Miller, co-founder of the Night-Time Industries Association (NTIA), launched a charter calling for business owners from the hospitality and licensed on trade, restaurants, pubs and bars, nightclubs and restaurants and event organisers to sign up to a pledge that they will not request vaccine passports for visitors to enter their premises.
The charter’s homepage reads “We have no axe to grind politically and many of us think the vaccine roll-out has been tremendous for those who wish to take it. We also know that for many reasons some will not have a vaccine.”
“Furthermore, we do not believe it is right that we, as premises and promoters, should demand to see proof of medical records or health status. The majority of people in the UK have chosen to be vaccinated.”
“There are many practical and logistical issues for us alongside civil liberty and discrimination considerations more broadly for society if venues or events insist on seeing any kind of health-related documents.”
“For that reason, we have signed up to the Licensed Premises & Events Charter – OPEN FOR ALL which means that we shall not be forcing our patrons to show us any documentation referring to health status in order to gain entry.”
The charter has drew a cross section of signatories from the industry and has seen over 300% increase in signatories since April 14.