Are 'immunity passports' a good idea to get people back into pubs, bars and restaurants?

The  Staff Canteen

Should hospitality businesses be responsible for enforcing the government's vaccination campaign? 

Yesterday, the UK's health secretary Matt Hancock held a press briefing to update the British people on the state of the coronavirus and laid out the government's strategy for the months ahead. 

He applauded Britons for curbing the infection rate by abiding by local restrictions, which saw it drop by a third in England in the last week, and promised that despite the difficult decision of imposing a tier system in the UK, mass testing programs like the one trialled in Liverpool last month could see restrictions lifted in Tier 3 areas as early as December 16th.  

Following on his speech, the business and industry minister in charge of vaccination deployment, Nadhim Zahawi, said that the vaccine - three of which have shown 90+ percent efficacy and are expected to be rolled out from next week - would not be compulsory, but that businesses such as pubs and restaurants could require proof that guests have been vaccinated before allowing them to make a reservation.

One way of doing this would be to create an 'immunity passport,' likely in the form of an app, which would allow medical practitionners make a digital note of a person's immunisation. 

Not mandatory

As businesses around the world have invested billions in following scientific guidelines since the onset of the pandemic, the UK government would be taking this one step further by asking them, as well as entertainment and sports venues, to run a vaccination campaign on their behalf. 

And while this might be a way of encouraging diners back out to restaurants, doing so effectively places the onus on business owners, which is likely to raise some eyebrows. 

Acknowledging that the government still has a role to play in encouraging people to be vaccinated, Nadhim Zahawi told the BBC: “I think that in many ways the pressure will come from both ways. From service providers who’ll say: ‘Look, demonstrate to us that you have been vaccinated.’ But, also, we will make the technology as easy and accessible as possible.”

We asked you

Upon questioning hospitality professionals, we received mixed responses about whether or not businesses would be willing to require proof that their guests have been vaccinated.

Many questioned how it would be possible to verify immunisation - to which the above solution of an app, should it function, would provide an answer - but others simply felt like it would be overstepping their mark as purveyors of food and drink. 

Spencer Hewitt, chef and owner of Square One restaurant said: "It's not our job to put customers in an uncomfortable position, we are not the police." 

Mike Bullard, chef and owner of The Butcher's Social in Warwickshire, said that such a policy would be "going too far."

"Should we ask people if they have had the flu jab? Should we ask them if they are HIV? Should we ask them about other sensitive information before we let people in? Should we all become doctors and medically-trained operators so we can assess who to let in or not?" 

He continued: "Protect the elderly and vulnerable and let everyone else crack on. We have more measures in place than ever!" 

Head chef at Waterloo House, Dave Sayers, called the proposition an "invasion of privacy, and a breach of our basic human rights.

He added that barring the introduction of an "Orwellian" vaccination passport, "people will just lie anyway, which then completely defeats the object of the exercise."


What are your thoughts? Would you implement a verification process for restaurants could reopen without restrictions?  We'd love to hear from you in the comments section below.

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The  Staff Canteen

The Staff Canteen

Editor 1st December 2020

Are 'immunity passports' a good idea to get people back into pubs, bars and restaurants?