Before the sun set on England’s Freedom Day, 19 July, the newly liberated live events industry was once again targeted with Government restrictions that will mean only fully vaccinated ticket buyers will be able to enter nightclubs and large venues from September.
On the day that saw the return of full-capacity events around the country and the wearing of masks no longer mandatory, vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi (pictured) said from September those attending large venues and nightclubs will need to be double jabbed, and show a negative Covid-19 test result will not be sufficient to gain entry.
The announcement follows reports earlier this month that Government sources had suggested it had decided not to enforce the use Covid-status certificates as part of the easing of restrictions on 19 July because it would discriminate against younger people who had not had their second jab. The Government said every adult in England will have been given the chance to have both doses by mid-September. Young unvaccinated people are understood to be behind a sharp recent rise in Covid-19 cases.
Zahawi said, “We are supporting the safe re-opening of large, crowded settings — such as nightclubs, as we saw last night, and music venues with the use of the NHS Covid Pass as a condition of entry, to reduce the risks of transmission. I encourage businesses to draw on this support and use the NHS Covid Pass in the weeks ahead.
“We will be keeping a close watch on how it is used by venues, and we reserve the right Mr Speaker to mandate it if necessary. By the end of September, everyone aged 18 and over will have the chance to receive full vaccination – and the additional two weeks for that full protection to really take hold. So at that point we plan to make full vaccination a condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather. Proof of a negative test will no longer be sufficient.”
Night Time Industries Association CEO Michael Kill responded to the Government announcement with frustration. He said, “So, Freedom Day for night clubs lasted around 17 hours then. The announcement from the prime minister that Covid passports will be made mandatory for night clubs in September comes after his health secretary said only one week ago that they would not be compulsory. What an absolute shambles.
“The Government’s own report into vaccine passports found they were more trouble than they’re worth – so what could possibly explain the about turn, just as millions across the UK experience their first taste of a night out in a year and a half?”
Greg Parmley, CEO of live music industry umbrella body LIVE said, “The Government has had several different positions on Covid certification in the last six months and we will need to see more detail before we can understand the full impact for the live music industry. Many festivals and large venues are already adopting some level of Covid certification, and as responsible event organisers, will continue to do so.
“What we are absolutely clear about, however, is that venues such as small music clubs should not be treated any differently to other similar-sized hospitality businesses such as bars and restaurants when it comes to the need for Covid vaccine certification.”
Government figures show that more than 46m people have received a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine, and more than 35m have had both doses. Every adult in the UK has been offered a first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine.