Friday, 15 Oct 2021

Spoons boss warns Covid passports ‘final straw for pubs hanging on by a thread’

Pub boss Tim Martin has warned vaccine passports could be the "last straw" for struggling pubs who are "hanging on by a thread."

Mr Martin, who owns the popular pub chain Wetherspoons, said the use of coronavirus health certificates in British pubs would force staff in the "front line" of a "bitter civil liberties war."

He said some customers would be "unwilling to be vaccinated or unable to have a jab for medical reasons," and hospital staff would be asked, unfairly, to judge who can come in and who can’t.

The government is currently looking at the potential use of vaccine passports as a beneficial tool to restart short-term business.

Each passport would show whether a person has been jabbed, received a negative test, or developed antibodies through past infection, it has been reported.

The idea does not sit well with Mr Martin who has criticised the government's handling of the hospitality industry, which has been hit hard by Covid, throughout the pandemic.

Writing in The Daily Telegraph, Mr Martin said there was no justification for a passport system.

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He wrote: "For many pubs, hanging on for dear life and devastated by G-force changes of direction, a complex and controversial passport scheme would be the last straw.

"It would inevitably put pub staff in the front line of a bitter civil liberties war, with some customers unwilling to be vaccinated or unable to have a jab for medical reasons."

Culture secretary Oliver Dowden, whose brief includes theatres, where certificates could be used, said there are "very big practical and ethical challenges" to face before domestic passports could be used.

  • Brits warned easing lockdown restrictions 'not an excuse to sneak into houses of friends'

On Sunday, he told The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One: "Of course, we would never look to do this on a permanent basis, it’s just whether it might be a tool in the short term."

Welsh first minister Mark Drakeford also backed the idea, stating that he is prepared to consider their use provided they were "fair and reliable."

Like Mr Martin, pub landlords last week Boris Johnson’s suggestion that it could be up to them to decide whether to screen customers’ certificates on entry.

The Prime Minister acknowledged the moral complexities around a domestic vaccine passport scheme, on which the government is set to reveal more details next month.

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