UK MP Says Bars and Clubs Could Turn Away Those Who Refuse Vaccine

by | Dec 2, 2020 | Industry, Stories | 0 comments

On Wednesday, the U.K. became the first country to approve Pfizer and BioNTech‘s COVID-19 vaccine for public use. Nadhim Zahawi, the business minister appointed to oversee deployment of the vaccine, has suggested that refusal to take it might bar individuals from entering businesses like bars and nightclubs – and his remarks have become a point of contention.

Zahawi told BBC that while the vaccine will not be mandated, it could be a requirement for an immunity passport that would preclude its holder from certain restrictions. “We are looking at the technology. And, of course, a way of people being able to inform their GP that they have been vaccinated,” he said. “But, also, I think you’ll probably find that restaurants and bars and cinemas and other venues, sports venues, will probably also use that system – as they have done with the [test and trace] app.”

“I think that in many ways the pressure will come from both ways,” Zahawi continued. “From service providers who’ll say: ‘Look, demonstrate to us that you have been vaccinated.’ But, also, we will make the technology as easy and accessible as possible.”

The attitude doesn’t appear to be universal amongst U.K. politicians. Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove said “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, that’s not the plan” when asked about immunity passports on Tuesday.

“What we want to do is to make sure that we can get vaccines effectively rolled out,” Gove went on, saying that businesses would “of course” be allowed to require vaccination at their own discretion. “But the most important thing that we should be doing at this stage is concentrating on making sure the vaccine is rolled out.”

The news follows coutcry from the Night Time Industry Association, among others, that tiered COVID-19 restrictions imposed following a monthlong lockdown will be a nail in the coffin for countless nightlife establishments. The organization accused lawmakers of “intentionally aiming to collapse our sector,” citing a survey that estimates 75.6% of bars and nightclubs will not survive past Christmas.

The U.K. has authorized early access to 357 million vaccine doses, according to the Department of Health and Social Care. Aside from the one developed by BioNTech and Pfizer, candidates by ModernaNovavax and Oxford/AstraZeneca are currently in phase three trials.

Image Credit:Alexander Popov

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