England Wants Venues to Require ‘COVID Passports’ for Concertgoers
A plan from government officials in England to require "COVID passports" from concertgoers to enter the country's nightclubs and attend live music events is understandably drawing criticism from venue owners and concert promoters in the region.
The NHS COVID Pass is already in use in the United Kingdom — the government offers it to those fully vaccinated against the coronavirus to provide as proof in international travel and for admittance to businesses and venues who choose to use it.
But could it soon become law in England for venues and clubs to require the pass from patrons?
As BBC reported on Tuesday (July 20), nightclubs in England are only just now reopening following the lifting of COVID-19 restrictions. Still, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said he plans "to make full vaccination the condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather" by the end of September.
That's despite data from the U.K.'s Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) that 80 percent of nightclubs don't wish to implement vaccination passports "due to concerns over enforcing the certification and a reduction in spontaneous customers," per Billboard.
Billboard also spoke to some live music execs about their frustrations with the plan. UKHospitality CEO Kate Nicholl called it a "hammer blow" to the industry that "risks hitting these fragile businesses and derailing their recovery." NTIA head Michael Kill said a mandate for music venues would put them at a "competitive disadvantage with pubs and bars that aren't subject to the same restrictions."
The U.K. government's website says that use of the NHS COVID Pass is "voluntary for individual organizations. However, we encourage the use of the NHS COVID Pass in facilities or events where people are likely to be in close proximity to a large number of people from other households" for a sustained time.
Last year, the notion of vaccine passports (or a negative test result) for concert admittance was reported to be something Ticketmaster might propose for U.S. concertgoers. Earlier this month, Pearl Jam's Jeff Ament said he wasn't sure he could see the band "checking vaccination cards" of their fans.