Yesterday, dubbed 'Freedom Day', marked the end of the majority of Covid-related rules. Face masks are no longer a legal requirement in enclosed spaces, but are still heavily encouraged, especially in more crowded spots such as on public transport. Significant life events, such as weddings and funerals, no long have to operate under a restricted guest-list, and nightclubs - many for the first time in eighteen months - have been allowed to reopen there doors once more.
However, the rules around your favourite club (and other indoor venues attracting large crowds, such as gigs) are set to change again come September, when vaccine passports - where you'll have to show proof you've received both vaccines on the door - are set to be introduced.
During Monday's (19 July) press conference, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said of the decision, "I don't want to have to close nightclubs again as they have elsewhere. But it does mean nightclubs need to do the socially responsible thing. As we said last week, we do reserve the right to mandate certification at any point if it's necessary to reduce transmission."
He continued, "And I should serve notice now that by the end of September, when all over-eighteens have had their chance to be double jabbed we're planning to make full vaccination the condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather."
The decision has been met with a mixed response. Many nightclub and venue owners are worried that the ruling will make it harder for them to keep their businesses afloat, especially as they're already struggling following a lengthy closure.
Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association (NITA) expressed concern that introducing mandatory vaccine passports will leave club owners, who have been planning their reopening for months, having to make yet more changes to the way they operate. He described the move as a 'shambles'. The NITA positions itself as a voice for the sector, aims to create jobs and says it strives to ensure that the night time economy continues to flourish.
"[Our recent research, in which we spoke to 250 businesses] found that 8 in 10 don't want to implement Covid passports [at present], with commonly cited reasons including a worry about difficulties with enforcing the system and a reduction in spontaneous consumers.
"In addition to that, [there's the issue of] being put at a competitive disadvantage against pubs and bars that aren’t subject to the same restrictions, and yet provide similar environments. The unreliability of lateral flow testing has is also a cause for concern."
Others took to social media to air their thoughts on the prospect of vaccine passports, with many questioning the government's timescale. "Allowing non-vaccinated people in now but vaccinated later?" one wrote. "It should be the other way round!"
A sizeable amount have also shared tweets along the lines of 'although I'm not an anti-vaxxer, this U-turn seems concerning' and have rightly pointed out that despite being double jabbed, it is still possible to catch COVID-19. Others have said they're in favour of passports and that ultimately, it'll help to save more lives.
Over in France, thousands of protestors have currently taken to the streets to march against the vaccine passport rules that are set to come into force tomorrow (21 July). The health pass will see only those who've been fully vaccinated (or who've had a negative PCR test within 24 hours) allowed entry into theatres, cinemas and museums. From August, the pass will be extended to include other popular venues such as malls, planes, restaurants and public transport.
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