England’s live industry has put Government on blast for the “chaos” that drove the national vaccine passport plan for re-opening venues and clubs, a policy which has now been scrapped.
Under the now-rejected scheme, punters would have been required to show proof of a double vaccination or a recent negative COVID-19 test as a final hurdle before going to the show.
The double vaccine initiative was meant to be introduced later this month, though Whitehall has backtracked, and hinted that a rollout would be kept in “reserve,” for later this year, or not at all.
It’s just as well, say live music advocates.
Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association, said he was “pleased” that the plans weren’t going ahead, and that the live industry dodged a bullet.
“I don’t think I have ever seen a Government reverse its position on one issue so many times,” he explains in a statement.
“What chaos, and what an abhorrent way to treat a sector that has been one of the worst hit during the pandemic. We estimate vaccine passports will kill off about 30% of our trade.”
Never miss industry news
Get the latest music industry news, insights, and updates straight to your inbox. Learn more
The live entertainment sector, he said, “was rejoicing that our campaigning efforts had paid off and that the policy was dead.”
The policy, says Kill and other critics, was divisive, vast and logistically challenging, and would require training, and technology in place to administer the systems, none of which are in place.
“Our issue with double vaccination certification as a sole requirement of entry was that it was highly unlikely to achieve improved safety above and beyond those measures already in place,” says Mark Dayvd, CEO of Music Venue Trust, a charity that aims to protect and improve the country’s network of grassroots venues, “and highly likely to create a two tier night time economy which divided venues and customers.”
For the past two months, Music Venue Trust and others have raised concerns with members of parliament on those not-insignificant concerns of deliverability, practicality, equality and potential discrimination.
The live industry’s lobbying efforts appear to have paid off.
“We just shouldn’t be doing things for the sake of it or because others are doing,” health minister Sajid Javid told the BBC, “and we should look at every possible intervention properly.”
Scotland, however, is moving ahead with its own vaccine passport setup for over-18s from October, as a key to entry into live music venues, clubs and other large gatherings.
Australia’s live industry will closely watch how the situation unfolds in the United Kingdom.
While Australia’s borders remain locked, the conversation on a vaccine passport is mostly muted.
“We need people vaccinated,” Michael Chugg, Executive Chairman, Chugg Entertainment, told TIO last month. “But it’s too early to talk about vax passports while four states are in lockdown or part lockdown.”