St Albans pubs reject vaccine passports idea as 'a further deterrent' to customers
- Credit: Roger Protz
Landlords across St Albans have hit back at government suggestions that "pub passports" might be needed to control access in the future, claiming they would put off customers from visiting.
The idea would be for pub staff to check whether customers had received their Covid vaccination before allowing access, placing the responsibility on pubs to ensure they controlled any potential spread of the virus.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson said this week that the proposal was being reviewed, but admitted there were ethical problems which needed to be addressed following a backlash from the hospitality sector.
The idea of vaccine passports has met with short shrift from local pubs, who are still reeling in the wake of successive lockdowns and other pandemic restrictions imposed over the past year.
Spokeperson for the Save St Albans Pubs campaign, Sean Hughes, is also landlord of The Boot, Dylans and The Plough at Sleapshyde.
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He said: “This is another example of the Government passing the buck to the hospitality industry. Of course we want people to have the vaccination for their own safety, but it shouldn’t be up to the hospitality industry individuals to make this call and enforce it.
"The Government should decide what its position is on this issue and, if they decide that it is a legal requirement to have a vaccination passport before entering a pub, or any venue, they need to come up with a robust national system which makes it impossible for people to abuse, so we don’t have to deal with forgeries.
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"Of course if there is a consistent, unified, thought-through approach which is a legal requirement, then we would follow that but if not, then I can’t see landlords taking this on themselves.
"We in the hospitality industry have had enough to cope with over the past year. We have already had the responsibility of launching the NHS track and trace which was pretty much hands down to the hospitality industry.”
Christo Tofalli, landlord of Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, said: “We will have rules about entry. It’s hard to say what they are now. One thing we have learned is things change. I’m keen to let people keep their liberty and will welcome all if they are within our rules.
“I would rather Boris concentrate on his own job. He needs to.
“If he had listened to us in the first place, we would have saved thousands of lives. Pubs were the first self-regulated business to keep everyone safe. He ignored our pleas to make tighter restrictions on supermarkets and other businesses flaunting the rules of common senses.
“It’s easy to stay within the rules as our processes have always been far better.
“It’s time the government resigns for such a shameful performance. They had ALL the answers but decided to ignore them time after time. Boris going will save more lives than a pub passport."
Alicia Nelson, landlady of The White Lion, said they would absolutely not consider introducing vaccine passports: "Pubs are already proven to be one of the most safe and secure environments due to all the measures in place from previous re-openings.
"This would only act as a further deterrent to customers from visiting pubs that are in dire financial situations as it is. Also, when the hospitality trade was shut down and schools stayed open, Covid rates continued to rise."
The Great Northern's Lauren Hawes agreed: "No I wouldn’t consider introducing them and I wouldn’t bar anyone without one! I think it’s a ridiculous suggestion. Also as the majority of pregnant women aren’t having the vaccine due to not knowing the consequences how can anyone go out with their partners for an evening out and then their partners get rejected purely for being pregnant?"