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And even those who may consider it have said, definitely not now…
Fiona Hornsby, owner of city centre Bridewell and The Denbigh Castle, believes it’s absolutely unworkable.
“My staff are predominantly under 50 so they wouldn’t be able to go to work without it,” she says, “and they are not top of the list for getting the vaccine, but the bottom.
“I also believe it’s an invasion of people’s space, not forgetting those people who can’t have the vaccine.
“And, if it’s a card people would have to carry, then it’s open to fraud and abuse. There are many reasons why it’s not the way forward and yet the discussion is not going away.”
The popular pub owner feels the industry would also be unfairly targeted and singled out: “It’s not fair that it’s just pubs people would need vaccine passports for. You don’t need them for the Tube, the bus, or the supermarket, so I don’t know why it’s just pubs.
“We are already operating to reduced capacity, it’s just not fair – why are we the policeman of the world?
“People come here to relax, to enjoy themselves with friends and family, to have a laugh – something we all need right now. Everyone has had enough.”
Fiona is opening the Bridewell outdoors on April 12, and The Denbigh Castle from May 17 (she suspects with the rule of six indoors). It remains to be seen whether pubs will be able to have people standing at the bar from June – but if it was down to statistics, she reckons they’d be there now.
“Boris said it was about data, not dates – but the data suggests we should be open as normal now.”
Kate Stewart, owner of the Sandon complex, says the Government should keep pubs closed until they can open safely with no restrictions because it’s not workable to do it any other way.
“Vaccine passports and social distancing aren’t the answer,” she says. “If it’s not safe to have people back without them then keep places shut and give them more money to help support them – don’t put the responsibility onto us.
“We’re either open or we’re not. I’ve got 150 staff, most of them under 25, and it shouldn’t be down to them to stand on a door and say to a pregnant woman who’s been advised not to get the vaccine that she can’t come in for a meal with her family.
“It’s people’s choice whether they have a vaccine or not – if you don’t want to, or you’ve been advised not to, then does that mean you aren’t allowed to socialise anymore or see your friends or eat out?
“Millions of people still haven’t been offered a vaccine yet, so are they supposed to just sit in the house until they get theirs?”
Kate says she understands many people will prefer not to go out yet because they’re still nervous. “That’s their decision, but there are plenty of people who’ve just had enough and just need normality back now.
“Strict social distancing isn’t the answer because when people are intoxicated they’re not going to stay away from each other, especially when they haven’t seen each other for over a year.
“And there’s bound to be counterfeit passports going round, so if someone comes in with a fake one, who’ll get the blame for that?
“We were given a roadmap and we thought there was light at the end of the tunnel – it didn’t say terms and conditions apply.”
Iain Hoskins believes vaccine passports could be a possibility – but not this year.
The owner of Ma Boyle’s and Tempest on Tithebarn says they would only be an option if we found ourselves in the position of rising infection rates like last year – and passports were the only way to keep pubs open.
“No-one wants to see us back in the position where pubs face closure again,” says Iain. “I don’t think there’s a simple yes or no because it’s a complicated argument and there are so many factors that depend on it.
“Let’s look at one scenario. If we had a huge wave and, realistically, we couldn’t close the country down again, what would you rather do – close the venue or open to those who have been vaccinated?
“But these are ifs and buts. If you were to say ‘vaccine passports, yes or no?’, it’s obviously a ‘no’ based on normal trading and infection rates at 40-50 per 100,000 as they are at the moment. If circumstances change it makes absolute sense for vaccination passports to be in play, again IF the majority of people have been vaccinated.”
Iain would like to see clearer guidelines and more detail on the Roadmaps currently being drawn by the Government, which reveal what measures will and will not be in place.
“At the moment we don’t know, will it be masks off on June 21, will people stop washing their hands? There seems to be very little on rules we’ll be going under and expectations need to be managed better.
“We need a more realistic roadmap which I think is what people are expecting. I don’t think it will be shackles off.”
Things should, he feels, be kept simple.
Sanitising stations should remain for the foreseeable future, hygiene and cleaning should stay ramped up more than ever it was before the pandemic, and if the Government doesn’t impose guidelines, perhaps councils might impose their own regulations.
Masks on an off, and trying to control migration of customers within a venue is not feasible, says Ian, in the long term.
“So let’s be positive now, and hope for the best.”
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