COVID vaccine passports 'could spark conflict in pubs'

·Senior news reporter, Yahoo News UK
·2-min read
Chelsea fans in The Chelsea Pensioner Pub before the Premier League match between Chelsea and Leicester City at Stamford Bridge, London. Picture date: Tuesday May 18, 2021. (Photo by John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)
A pub industry body has warned against the use of so-called vaccine passports as a condition of entry. (John Walton/PA Images via Getty Images)

Coronavirus vaccine passports could spark “conflict” in pubs, an industry leader has warned MPs.

Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, said pubs cannot afford another “hurdle” to entry, and that vaccine certificates may add to tensions between staff and customers.

The government has yet to announce whether so-called vaccine passports will be needed to go to the pub, though Boris Johnson said on Friday he doesn’t “see any prospect” of certificates being required.

Nonetheless, McClarkin, giving evidence to the House of Commons public administration and constitutional affairs committee on Monday, hammered her opposition home.

Watch: 'I don’t see any prospect of certificates to go to pubs’ – PM

She said pubs, struggling following three national lockdowns, are “implacably against” what committee chair William Wragg branded “papers for a pint”.

McClarkin said pubs rely on customer “spontaneity” and passports would be a “significant hurdle and barrier” to that.

“There is also a tension on the door,” she told MPs. “We had to stop people throughout the reopening and explain the restrictions… about Test and Trace, about the need for us to collect data.

“And it has in some circumstances created a tension and conflict between our employees and consumers, and we really wouldn’t want to add any more to that. We are hospitality, we want people to be welcomed.”

She also claimed vaccine passports are “unnecessary” given the UK’s successful rollout of the jab, which as of Monday had seen 72.3% of adults have at least one vaccine.

Despite Johnson's assurances on Friday, doubts linger with the government appearing likely to miss a target for publishing its reviews on social distancing and coronavirus status certificates, due to the spread of the Indian variant.

The reviews had been promised by the end of the month, ahead of announcements on whether step four of England’s road map will go ahead on 21 June, but the timetable has been slipping in recent days.

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Johnson's official spokesman said on Monday: “We will do it as soon as possible based on the latest data, which will help inform us what measures we can take around certification.”

The latest data on the Indian variant was needed and “that will allow us to make final decisions” on the issues.

“I think it’s reasonable for a new variant such as this, and the need to gather as much data as possible to inform our decisions, it’s right to take the time to get that information before making those final decisions.”

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