Vaccine passports are expected to be introduced to nightclubs and other music events in England as part of new Covid-19 regulations set to be announced imminently.
Senior ministers convened this morning, Wednesday 8th December, in preparation for the sign-off of fresh rules — dubbed ‘Plan B’ — which they hope will curb rising Covid cases, with particular concern stemming from the recent emergence of the Omicron variant.
A final decision is expected to be made later today, with some restrictions predicted to come into force as early as this evening or tomorrow morning. Policies are thought to include an expansion of situations in which mask-wearing is mandatory and advice to work from home where possible.
So-called Covid passports, which confirm whether an individual has been partially or fully inoculated (i.e. single or double jabbed) are said to be among the steps government will take. It has not been confirmed whether this would allow entry for those who can prove a negative test result, or only for people who have received an approved vaccine.
A similar scheme is already in place in Scotland. However, in October, The Scotsman reported on the devastating impact this policy was having on the nightlife sector, with a drop in attendance of 46% at some venues, with others registering a 60% decline. It’s not clear how those figures have changed in the weeks since they were published.
All measures are designed to avoid placing unnecessary strain on the NHS healthcare system and ensure hospitals do not become overwhelmed in the coming weeks. Currently, there has been no mention of full venue closures, as is happening in European countries including Germany, France, Poland, and the Republic of Ireland.
Problematically, Downing Street is also battling to dampen a rapidly escalating scandal relating to an alleged Christmas party and separate ‘leaving do’, which are said to have taken place in December last year, at which point the UK as a whole was in almost complete lockdown.
Many believe the announcement of new rules is a tactic to redirect headlines away from this situation. Others are questioning the public’s willingness to comply with additional regulations following successive controversies in which the political class has failed to adhere to the rules they set. Meanwhile, the widely criticised Police, Crime, Sentencing and Courts Bill — which some have labelled ‘draconian’ as it effectively criminalises protest — is also going through its first sitting at the report stage of the House of Lords today.