Covid passes now a legal requirement in some hospitality settings

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor

Last night, MPs voted their approval of new Covid restrictions by 369 votes to 126, including guidance to work from home, compulsory face masks in most public places, and Covid passes to allow access to nightclubs and other large venues. 

It is hoped that they will help tackle the spread of Covid amid concerns that the new Omicron variant of the virus is significantly more infectious than Delta, and both appear to be on the rise.

The new measures were voted through despite a Tory backbench rebellion and questions as to the viability of such restrictions for sectors including hospitality.

'It's not a lockdown, it's Plan B'

In a press briefing last week, the Prime Minister said the new measures "do not amount to a lockdown," urging people to push on with Christmas nativity plays and parties. He stated that the goal was to lift restrictions "no later than early January and possibly before."

With the government split on the 'Plan B' measures, it is understood that Downing Street still sees scaling up the rollout of booster jabs as the best protection from Omicron.

As part of this, it has broadened booster jab bookings to include all under 18s, and by by cutting the time between doses from six months down to three. 

As it stands, Britain has the highest number of confirmed Omicron infections in Europe - suspected to be as high as 220,000 a day

Covid passes 

The introduction of Covid passes is likely to cause some ripples in the hospitality industry, as is the idea that they could be extended more widely, as it is feared they will be highly damaging to business and less effective than other means of containing the spread of the virus.

Already mandatory for large-scale events and nightclubs in Scotland and Wales, they can currently be implemented anywhere in England on a voluntary basis should businesses see the need to introduce them.

Were they to become mandatory in wider hospitality acrosss the UK, however, Kate Nicholls, CEO of UKHospitality told The Staff Canteen, the government would need to "[step] up and [do] the economic assessment alongside the health impact assessment." 

At the time, she said: "If at that point the government decides that it is necessary to trigger Plan B and move towards those restrictions, we need to have support for those businesses that are directly affected, because the costs and the revenue hit are so significant that you would raise into question business viability unless you had that support. "

"While there is more support in Scotland and Wales currently, it's still not enough to offset the cost of vaccine passports on their businesses if it was introduced in England - where our support measures are much lower at the moment; no furlough, no grants, very limited amounts of business rates relief - in Scotland and Wales it's 100 percent, in England it's 60 and it's dropping back to 50 percent."

The Prime Minister previously said a review of the data would be held next week - the week before Christmas -  when it is expected that the government will have more information as to whether the Omicron variant will lead to unmanageable pressure on the National Health Service, and whether further restrictions might be necessary.

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Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Tanwen Dawn-Hiscox

Deputy Editor 15th December 2021

Covid passes now a legal requirement in some hospitality settings