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UK nations divide over vaccine certification

Multiple governments in the UK have this week announced pivotal changes in Covid-19 requirements for venues and shows

By IQ on 08 Oct 2021

Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff

Motorpoint Arena, Cardiff

UK governments have this week announced varying approaches towards vaccine certification and Covid-19 requirements, in some cases posing new logistical challenges for the live music industry.

On Tuesday (6 October), the Welsh government announced that everyone will need an NHS Covid Pass to enter nightclubs and large events from next week.

As of 11 October, anyone aged over 18 will be required to show the pass to prove they are either fully vaccinated or have had a negative lateral flow test result within the last 48 hours.

The pass will be compulsory for anyone who wants to attend:

  • Nightclubs
  • Indoor standing events with more than 500 people
  • Outdoor standing events with more than 4,000 people
  • Any event with more than 10,000 people, including sporting events

People in Wales will need an NHS Covid Pass to enter nightclubs and large events from next week

Pablo Janczur, director of events at Think Orchard, which operates in more than 20 venues in Wales, says that the implementation of the Covid Pass will add another obstacle in venues’ post-pandemic recovery.

“We’ve got a lot of ground to make up and the Covid pass just adds an extra layer of resources – no matter how small,” he says.

“It’s going to require extra resources to check everybody and deal with the people who didn’t get the memo and turned up without a pass for whatever reason. I think it’s going to make life a bit more difficult for us, operationally, with all the venues we work with.”

Janczur also warns that Wales’s restrictions will put the market at a competitive disadvantage to neighbouring England, which lifted all restrictions on 19 July.

“Since the opening happened, people have been popping over the bridge to Bristol so we’ve been worried about a competitive disadvantage for a while. People can do stuff in Wales, but they can easily get to Bristol or Hereford or anywhere over the border,” he adds.

In Scotland, vaccine passports became mandatory for large events and nightclubs last Friday

Promoters and venues in Scotland are facing some of the toughest restrictions in the UK after the government introduced mandatory vaccine passports.

Vaccine passports became mandatory for large events and nightclubs last Friday (1 October) but ‘a vast majority’ of people experienced repeated problems in registering and uploading their personal vaccine status to the app.

The event industry – which warned against the policy – is calling for the scheme to be scrapped immediately to avoid further damage to a ‘very fragile nighttime economy’.

Stuart Galbraith, CEO of Kilimanjaro Live, which works in numerous venues across the UK, said the Scottish government’s position on a mandatory vaccine passport “seems overly draconian”.

“Currently, most shows we are running require proof of vaccination or proof of a negative lateral flow test result to be shown when required,” explains Galbraith.

“We think this is the best approach as it offers customers reassurance and provides a safe environment for our shows to take place.”

N.I yesterday announced a rollback of restrictions which will see the reintroduction of non-seated indoor shows

Northern Ireland
In more positive news, Northern Ireland yesterday (7 October) announced a rollback of restrictions which will see the reintroduction of non-seated indoor shows from 14 October.

In addition, the legal requirement for social distancing in bars and restaurants is to be removed from 31 October.

Nightclubs are also to be allowed to reopen for the first time since March 2020, meaning legal restrictions on dancing in venues will be scrapped.

However, ministers have agreed to retain the mandatory wearing of face coverings in certain settings.

The government has asked some sectors to put in place mitigations including proof of double vaccination or a negative lateral flow test but it is not legally enforced.

Plans for vaccine passports could be revived under the English government’s Plan B for coronavirus

As of 19 July, large events, such as music concerts and sporting events have resumed without any limits on attendance or social distancing requirements and attendees are no longer legally required to wear a face mask.

However, the compulsory use of vaccine passports would be implemented under the government’s more stringent Plan B rules, with only double-jabbed gig-goers allowed entry, and negative lateral flow tests no longer allowed.

The proposal will only be introduced if the country faces a difficult winter with rising Covid cases in the colder months, the government said.

Ministers recently warned that the government needed to be prepared to “act swiftly” and adopt measures such as vaccine passports “at short notice” if there were “unsustainable pressures” on the NHS as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.


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