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AS U.K. MULLS COVID PASSPORTS, SOME OBJECT

The use of COVID passports or certificates to grant access to events and venues has divided opinions in the U.K., with critics saying the idea could be discriminatory and infringe on freedom, while others, including Reading and Leeds promoter Melvin Benn, say they could remove the need for social distancing.

COVID-status certificates, which would likely be an app-based document, are being discussed amongst British politicians as one of the measures that could enable the safe return of social life. The document would show vaccination status and/or a recent negative test and are said to be part of a number of measures being tested in the pilot events the Government is currently running, ahead of the possible return of gigs at the end of June.

However, there's growing opposition to the idea. Liverpool comedy club Hot Water, which was supposed to be running the first pilot event on 4/16, has pulled out of the scheme after receiving backlash as a result of being linked to the proposals for coronavirus health certificates. Alongside 4,000 negative messages, club co-owner Paul Blair said he received "a lot of refund requests" for the now canceled pilot event. "There’s a lot of damage, whether it’s short- or long-term it’s hard to gauge because we’re not open,” he said.

At the same time, various politicians and hospitality business owners have criticized the plan. The founder of bar and restaurant operator LoungersAlex Reilly, called the certificates “undemocratic” and “potentially incredibly discriminatory” in Guardian report.

“It is requiring a sector which has suffered immeasurable financial losses through the last 15 months to have to adhere to yet another nonsense rule in order to operate ‘as normal’,” he said.  Other pub owners, including Wetherspoon’s head Tim Martin and Simon Emeny, chief exec of Fuller, Smith & Turner, also discredited the idea. Emeny said, in the same report, that it “flies in the face of the whole ethos of a public house being one that is open to all.”

Benn, who hopes to proceed with his Reading and Leeds festivals at the end of August, said COVID certification could be the answer to festivals being able to return. “It could mean large events could get back up running without social distancing,” he told the Evening Standard.

West End theater owner Nica Burns told the same paper that the use of a certificate could be an “inclusive” way of helping open up the West End. “It isn’t just about vaccination,” she said. ‘This gives alternatives for those that cannot be vaccinated for medical reasons or any other reasons so they can still participate with a simple test.” 

If the certificates go to a vote (which it may not), the aforementioned Guardian report says it’s unlikely the Government would be able to achieve the support it would need in order to proceed with the plans.

In other live event news, independent festival Bluedot in Cheshire, which was due to take place on 7/24-12, has been canceled. The organizers said they’ve had to call off the event for a second year due to the lack of a “government-backed insurance scheme,” which means that the financial risks of planning the festival, which could be canceled closer to the time, were “too high.” Headliners included BjorkThe Halle OrchestraGroove Armada and Metronomy.

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