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Will you need a vaccine passport for the pub?

Will you need a vaccine passport for the pub?
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With a vaccine passport scheme on the horizon for Scotland and Wales, here’s how your next visit to the pub could be affected, and how employees might be impacted in the coming months.

Where do you need a vaccine passport?

There are no plans as yet for vaccine passports in England or Northern Ireland. However, if you’re in Scotland or Wales, you’ll need a vaccine passport to enter:

  • Nightclubs 
  • Adult entertainment venues
  • Unseated events indoors with more than 500 attendees
  • Any unseated event outdoors with 4,000 or more people
  • Any event, indoors or outdoors, with more than 10,000 attendees

In Scotland, vaccine passports will be required from 1 October 2021, and in Wales, they’ll be needed from 11 October 2021. But does this mean you’ll need a vaccine passport for a pub or similar venues? Maybe – let’s take a look. 

What counts as a ‘nightclub’?

Well, this is where it gets a little confusing. The guidance for Wales isn’t clear yet, but in Scotland,a nightclub is a venue that:

  • Serves alcohol after midnight
  • Is open between midnight and 5am
  • Has designated space for dancing 
  • Offers recorded or live music for dancing 

The venue must tick all four boxes to be called a nightclub. But there’s clear potential for confusion.

Under these rules, a club with a 100-person capacity that is open until 3am and has a dance floor and a karaoke machine is technically a nightclub. However, a venue with a 300-person capacity that’s also open until 3am but has no dance floor and only offers background music for ambience is not a nightclub.

So, as things stand, there’s no need for a vaccine passport at the venue that is larger and busier than the ‘nightclub’.  

Will you need a vaccine passport for the pub?

Based on what’s known so far, you’ll only need a vaccine passport if you’re in Scotland (and, potentially, Wales) and you enter a venue that meets the criteria outlined above. So, here’s what we can take from this news:

  • Is it a licensed venue open after midnight with a dance floor and music? You’ll probably need a passport.
  • Is it a venue with no music or space for dancing? Then you probably won’t need a passport, even if it’s open late or there are more people. 
  • Are there more than 500 people in the venue? If it’s an unseated event, like a concert, you’ll need a passport.  

It’s still unclear whether staff must be vaccinated, which raises wider concerns for employees who may not want the vaccine. 

How do you get a vaccine passport?

The good news is that vaccine passports are free. So, once you’ve received both doses of the Covid-19 vaccine, here’s how to get your passport in Scotland or Wales: 

  • Scotland: download a PDF copy or ask for a printed copy to be sent to your home. Or, from 30 September, download the NHS Covid Status app and access the QR code. 
  • Wales: access the NHS Covid Pass by logging on to the NHS website.

Although you don’t need a vaccine passport in England or Northern Ireland for these venues, here’s how you can prove your vaccine status anyway: 

  • England: get an NHS Covid Pass from the NHS App. 
  • Northern Ireland: apply online through NI Direct for proof of vaccination. 

What do vaccine passports mean for the hospitality industry?

The hospitality sector is still trying to recover from the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic lockdowns. So, industry bodies are concerned that vaccine passports will place new financial burdens on pubs and clubs at a time when recovery is still uncertain.

Here’s a summary of the main concerns:

  • Food shortages are already placing a burden on the sector.
  • The passport scheme could deter people from visiting venues, which may lead to job losses and business closures.
  • If passports become mandatory for staff, then there could be more job losses or legal challenges.

Vaccine passports: takeaway

With staff shortages already plaguing the hospitality sector, many industry leaders fear that vaccine passports are simply another obstacle to overcome. However, as it stands, passports are on the way in Scotland and Wales, unless the industry can successfully challenge the decision in court.

Are you employed in the nightlife industry? If you’re worried about what a vaccine passport could mean for your job and finances, contact Citizens Advice for help. And, where possible, start saving now to build an emergency fund in case the worst happens and your venue shuts down. 

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