By Kunal Sawhney, CEO of Kalkine (www.kalkine.co.uk)
UK’s 19 July reopening finally removed all remaining Covid-related curbs. Pictures of crowds flocking nightclubs flooded the inter- net, making scientists and doctors jittery.After a long period of lockdowns and curbs that crippled UK’s economy, it gradually began to move towards opening up. On the 19 July Freedom Day, all restrictions regard- ing how many people to meet and social distancing norms came to an end.
But contrary to what was being expected that a successful vaccination programme would make the resumption of the economy
smooth, the emergence of the Delta and Lambda variants have cast doubts on the practicality of a complete reopening. Scientists and doctors have expressed uneasiness at allowing what could turn to be super- spreader events to function.
WHY ARE PASSPORTS NEEDED?
Restrictions and curbs hit UK’s hospitality and tourism sector the worst.A partial reopening allowed restaurants to first resume serving food outdoors and later indoors. But restaurants have seen then and pointed out that social distancing norms meant they could not function at an optimum level.
The hospitality sector is also facing an acute shortage of staff. Brexit- related labour laws have led to a flight of skilled labour from the UK. Now, the government is also planning on making vaccination certificates mandatory for entry into nightclubs. Prime minister Boris Johnson announced that certificates would be made compulsory from late September onwards. Johnson’s announcement came shortly after packed nightclubs reopened on 19 July after 16 months.
The prime minister is pushing for passports to encourage the younger population to get vaccinated.The UK opened vaccination for eighteen- year-olds only a month back for their first dose.The government’s rationale behind making vaccine certificates mandatory by September is to allow enough time for all its adult population to get vaccinated.
Johnson has said that though the government is keen that people reclaim their freedom, it’s also important that they remain cautious, and vaccination must continue.
BOON OR BANE?
The hospitality sector has been awaiting a complete recovery for a long now.The move to reopen nightclubs was welcomed by the sector as it would potentially provide the much-required boost to the sector. But plans of making vaccine certificates compulsory would come as a hammer blow for nightclubs and could potentially jeopardise jobs.
According to Kate Nicholls, chief of UK Hospitality, covid passports could create an expensive burden on these establishments and could flare up hostility between customers and staff. Nicholls also said it could derail these fragile businesses from their recovery path and put several jobs on the line.
It is important to keep safety protocols in mind for the economy to function normally.Vaccination is the only way to achieve this going for- ward. But the main purpose of reopening is to allow businesses to resume operations normally.A lot has been lost financially for these establishments already. Policy decisions have to be planned well and announced clearly for all stakeholders to operate smoothly. However, these erratic U-turns and new announcements would make matters worse for this fragile sector. It cannot be forgotten that they employ a sizeable number of people and contribute to the gross domestic product growth in a significant way.