Pub landlords could ask customers to provide a negative Covid-19 test result or show their “vaccine passport” before they let them inside, the Prime Minister has said.
During discussions about the ‘roadmap’ out of lockdown Conservative MP William Wragg asked the Prime Minister if “Covid vaccine certification for domestic use” could be required for pub-goers. The Prime Minister responded, telling the Liaison Committee that individual pub landlords should decide whether they will ask for a certificate of vaccination before they allow a customer to enter their pub.
“I think that that’s the kind of thing – it may be up to individual publicans, it may be up to the landlord,” he said.
Adding: “You will appreciate that there are other members of your committee, who take a passionately opposing view for the need for tougher measures and I’ve found myself in this long national conversation thinking very deeply about it.
“I think the public have been thinking deeply about it and I have the impression that there is a huge wisdom in the public’s feeling about this.
“Human beings instinctively recognise when something is dangerous and nasty to them, they can see that Covid is collectively a threat, and they want us as their government and me as the Prime Minister to take all the actions I can to protect them and that’s what I’ve been doing for the last year or more.”
Under the current roadmap, pubs will be able to serve food and drink to customers outdoors from 12 April, before being allowed to resume indoor service from 17 May.
British Pub Confederation chair Greg Mulholland told The Sun that the decision to implement vaccine passports should not be up to venues, he said: “For the government to abdicate responsibility and ask pubs to make a moral judgement it’s just not acceptable.
Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UK Hospitality, saying it would be “unworkable”.
“It’s crucial that visiting the pub and other parts of hospitality should not be subject to mandatory vaccination certification,” she said.
“It is simply unworkable, would cause conflict between staff and customers and almost certainty result in breaches of equality rules.
Jonathan Neame, chief executive of Shepherd Neame, said on the BBC’s Today programme, that he would not make it a mandatory condition for people to visit his pubs, warning it could lead to issues around “discrimination” and “data protection”.
“The whole essence of a pub is that they are diverse and inclusive environments, where everybody, and families in particular, are extremely welcome,” he said.
“It’s absolutely fine to exclude people where there is a situation of bad behaviour or drunkenness, and that’s already enshrined in law, but if you’re going to exclude people for what they are, or what they have not done, that’s a wholly different issue which does touch on discrimination, civil liberties, and in this case data protection issues.”
Steven Alton, BII CEO commented:
“Public Health England proved last year that despite over 60 million visits a week in the summer of 2020 to hospitality venues, there was no discernible rise in Covid rates caused by people safely socialising in our pubs. To demand even more of them at a time when their businesses are teetering on the edge, and at the same time excluding members of their communities who may not have the option of vaccination, would be devastating for our sector.
“The recovery of our nation’s economy will rely heavily on our vibrant and vital sector, which contributes almost £60 billion to the treasury each year. To introduce this unworkable solution at a point where our pubs need to be open and trading freely and fully, will seriously endanger the survival of our pubs and materially damage the communities, high streets, livelihoods, suppliers & brewers and local employment that rely so heavily upon them.
“The Prime Minister must deliver his roadmap commitment with pubs to be free of restrictions on June 21st. This roadmap was clearly based on the fantastic progress of the national vaccine roll out that fundamentally changes the risks that we are exposed to and allowing us to unlock our lives once more. Our pubs, small businesses led by entrepreneurs, are facing a long road to recovery, more unworkable & baseless ideas will result in business failure & lost jobs.”