Saturday, July 24, 2021

Covid vaccine passports: Rekom’s Peter Marks hits out at Boris Johnson over ‘terrible misjudgment’

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A nightclub boss has today slammed Boris Johnson’s vaccine passport scheme, describing it as a ‘terrible misjudgment’ and says enforcing it will be ‘suicide’ for the industry. 

Peter Marks, chief executive of Rekom UK, which owns 42 nightclubs including chains Pryzm, Eden and Fiction, said he felt ‘utter disbelief’ after hearing the PM’s plans.

During a press conference on Monday’s ‘Freedom Day’ – the day clubs reopened for the first time in 16 months – Mr Johnson sparked fury among club bosses by declaring plans for a Covid passports in clubs.

He said proof of a negative test from 18-year-olds and over would no longer be considered sufficient enough for entry for nightclubs from September. 

But Mr Johnson could face a backbench rebellion over the scheme, with some Tory MPs said to be ‘disgusted’ by the measure. 


And today Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer – whose party would most likely need to vote down proposals in order for them to be rejected – also took a swipe at the Prime Minister over the cards.

Referencing former comments by Mr Johnson, in which he said he would ‘eat’ a national ID card if it was introduced, he labelled the Prime Minister a ‘superspreader of confusion’.

Meanwhile, night club boss Mr Marks, questioned Mr Johnson’s leadership over the issue, saying: ‘What we’ve got here is a Government, in particular a prime minister, who is driven more by public opinion and opinion polls than I think is healthy.

Peter Marks, chief executive of Rekom UK, which owns 42 nightclubs including chains Pryzm, Eden and Fiction, said he felt 'utter disbelief' after hearing Mr Johnson's plans for clubs later this year. Pictured: People queue outside Egg nightclub in London on 'Freedom Day' night

Peter Marks, chief executive of Rekom UK, which owns 42 nightclubs including chains Pryzm, Eden and Fiction, said he felt 'utter disbelief' after hearing Mr Johnson's plans for clubs later this year. Pictured: People queue outside Egg nightclub in London on 'Freedom Day' night

Peter Marks, chief executive of Rekom UK, which owns 42 nightclubs including chains Pryzm, Eden and Fiction, said he felt ‘utter disbelief’ after hearing Mr Johnson’s plans for clubs later this year. Pictured: People queue outside Egg nightclub in London on ‘Freedom Day’ night

Today Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (pictured) - whose party would most likely need to vote down proposals in order for them to be rejected - also took a swipe at the Prime Minister over the cards

Today Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (pictured) - whose party would most likely need to vote down proposals in order for them to be rejected - also took a swipe at the Prime Minister over the cards

Referencing former comments by Mr Johnson (pictured), in which he said he would 'eat' a national ID card if it was introduced, he labelled the Prime Minister a 'superspreader of confusion'

Referencing former comments by Mr Johnson (pictured), in which he said he would 'eat' a national ID card if it was introduced, he labelled the Prime Minister a 'superspreader of confusion'

Today Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer (pictured left)  – whose party would most likely need to vote down proposals in order for them to be rejected – also took a swipe at the Prime Minister over the cards. Referencing former comments by Mr Johnson (pictured right), in which he said he would ‘eat’ a national ID card if it was introduced, he labelled the Prime Minister a ‘superspreader of confusion’.


Nightclub chiefs slam PM’s plan to demand Covid certificates

Furious hospitality chiefs have slammed Boris Johnson’s plans to make vaccine passports compulsory in nightclubs and other ‘crowded’ venues from September as England’s so-called ‘Freedom Day’ descended into an ‘absolute shambles’.

Downing Street has declined to specify what criteria will be used to target venues – and even failed to rule out extending the scheme to other hospitality venues, including pubs. 

The policy is a major U-turn, with Cabinet ministers Michael Gove and Nadhim Zahawi previously denying there were plans to introduce so-called ‘Covid status certification’ and Downing Street calling such a move ‘discriminatory’.

Night-time economy bosses have reacted angrily to the plans, calling the move ‘yet another chaotic U-turn’ and a ‘bad idea’, with eight in 10 nightclubs warning they do not want to implement vaccine passports amid concerns the requirement will damage their trade even further.

Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said last night: ‘So, ‘Freedom Day’ for nightclubs lasted around 17 hours then. The announcement from the Prime Minister that Covid passports will be made mandatory for night clubs in September comes after his Health Secretary said only one week ago that they would not be compulsory. What an absolute shambles.


‘Leaving aside the fact that this is yet another chaotic U-turn that will leave night clubs who have been planning for reopening for months having to make more changes to the way they operate – this is still a bad idea.

‘Eighty per cent of nightclubs have said they do not want to implement Covid passports, worrying about difficulties with enforcing the system and a reduction in spontaneous consumers, as well as being put at a competitive disadvantage with pubs and bars that aren’t subject to the same restrictions and yet provide similar environments.’

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‘Sometimes you’ve got to show leadership and I don’t think this man has that. I question his judgment. I think he’s really good at lifting the spirits up, and I’m certainly not anti-Boris per se, but I think this been a terrible misjudgment on his behalf.’

Mr Marks said he will be ‘making the case’ to the Government that the nightclub industry should not be treated separately from the rest of the society and he wants to work with it to look at how clubs can operate in a ‘risk-assessed and balanced way’.

‘To highlight the nightclub industry has no basis other than populist messaging and I completely disagree with it,’ he said.


‘To just say, bang, [and introduce vaccine passports], in the vain hope that nightclubs are so popular in the under 30s that it’s going to make everyone shrug their shoulders and go and get a passport, is delusional.

‘We will not be accepting passports as a requirement of entry until we are directed to do so because it’s a suicide note for us.

‘If it becomes enforced then I’m not going to break the law. I would never do that. But the reality is that I will keep banging the drum until common sense prevails but that’s because this is populist claptrap.’

A Government spokesman said: ‘This is about protecting people in those settings where the virus is most likely to spread, and vaccines are the best possible way to do this.

‘The change will not come into effect until the end of September, by which point everyone aged 18 and over will have had the chance to get fully vaccinated. We are continuing to urge young people to come forward for their jabs.

‘NHS Covid Pass is designed to be simple and easy to use and we have announced this change over two months in advance, to give venues notice to prepare.’ 

Meanwhile, Sir Keir took a swipe at Mr Johnson as he questioned him over the Covid passport plans.

Speaking in the House of Commons to Mr Johnson, who was taking Prime Minister’s Questions from Chequers, where he is self-isolating after being ‘pinged’, Sir Keir said: ‘I can’t believe the Prime Minister doesn’t see the irony in him spending Freedom Day locked in isolation and announcing plans for a vaccine ID card.

‘I remember him saying he would “eat” an ID card if he ever had to produce one, now he’s introducing them.

‘So when it comes to creating confusion, the Prime Minister is a superspreader.’ 

The opposition leader’s quip was in relation to comments made by Mr Johnson in 2004, when writing about plans to make carrying ID compulsary.

Writing in the Telegraph at the time, he said: ‘But I tell you this. If I am ever asked, on the streets of London, or in any other venue, public or private, to produce my ID card as evidence that I am who I say I am, when I have done nothing wrong and when I am simply ambling along and breathing God’s fresh air like any other freeborn Englishman, then I will take that card out of my wallet and physically eat it in the presence of whatever emanation of the state has demanded that I produce it.’

The comments come as No10 yesterday refused to rule out making people prove they are double-jabbed to get into pubs – as Tory rebels vowed to fight Boris Johnson’s ‘disgusting’ threat to restrict access to nightclubs.

Boris Johnson laid down a warning to younger generations, making clear that they will need to prove they have been vaccinated to enter nightclubs and other venues from September. Pictured: Clubbers return to Astoria in Portsmouth

The PM faces a furious backlash from MPs and civil liberties campaigners after delivering an ultimatum to young people about the shape of the rules from September at a press briefing last night. 

And pushed on whether the prospective edict could apply to bars as well Downing Street merely said it will ‘use the coming weeks to look at the evidence’. 

Former Supreme Court justice Lord Sumption said the move was ‘completely unnecessary’ given the high rates of vaccine take-up across the UK. 

Scientist Carl Heneghan suggested it is the thin end of the wedge, saying if the government is worried about ‘crowded spaces’ they will end up demanding medical evidence to board the Tube.   

And Professor Sir Jonathan Montgomery, who chaired the ethics advisory board for NHSx on its contact tracing app, warned that ministers need to be wary about ‘where incentive meets coercion’. 

Critics also pointed out that being vaccinated is not a guarantee people do not have coronavirus, with around 40 per cent of hospital cases having been jabbed.

Former Supreme Court justice Lord Sumption said the move was 'completely unnecessary' given the high rates of vaccine take-up across the UK

Former Supreme Court justice Lord Sumption said the move was 'completely unnecessary' given the high rates of vaccine take-up across the UK

Former Supreme Court justice Lord Sumption said the move was ‘completely unnecessary’ given the high rates of vaccine take-up across the UK

Tory MP Charles Walker declared he will vote against the plan if it comes to the Commons after the summer recess. ‘It will start with nightclubs and then quickly move on to other parts of the hospitality sector,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s World at One.

Another senior lockdown-sceptic told MailOnline there are ‘likely’ to be enough Tory rebels. But they stressed a revolt would be ‘pointless’ unless Labour lines up against the measures.

‘It’s all about Keir Starmer… unless Labour go through the division lobbies in opposition it will happen,’ the MP said. 

The MP said the PM’s was using a ‘disgusting’ tactic to pressure young people to get jabs. ‘I am profoundly disgusted that a Conservative government is manipulating the public like this… it is awful,’ they said.

Asked whether pubs could also be caught by the requirement, a No10 spokesman said: ‘The Prime Minister talked about the sort of areas we were considering, and nightclubs are where there is significant evidence we have at the moment.

‘But we’re going to use the coming weeks to look at the evidence, particularly both in the UK and globally before making a specific decision.’

Meanwhile, Commons Speaker Lindsay Hoyle has made clear that Covid certificates will not be required to get into Parliament.  

‘You wonder what on earth is going on in Boris’s mind that he thinks the ends justify the means. But until public opinion changes there is really nothing to be done.’ 

Nicola Sturgeon has also played down the prospect of proof being required for venues in Scotland, saying it raises ‘sensitive ethical and equity considerations’. 

Mr Johnson – who is self-isolating at Chequers after he was ‘pinged’ – told the press conference last night that proof of double-vaccination will be a ‘condition of entry’ at clubs.

Speaking just hours after the venues were allowed to reopen for the first time in 16 months on ‘Freedom Day’, Mr Johnson declined to rule out extending the scheme to other hospitality venues, including pubs. 

Boris Johnson

Boris Johnson

Mark Harper

Mark Harper

Boris Johnson urged the public to keep isolating when ‘pinged’ and warned young people that they face being blocked from partying if they do not get jabs tonight as he took a coronavirus press briefing from his own house arrest at Chequers

Football fans will have to prove they are double-jabbed to attend matches 

Plans are being drawn up that will require football fans to prove they have had two doses of Covid vaccination before they can attend matches from the end of September.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced last night that everyone who wants to go to a nightclub in the autumn will have to be fully vaccinated.

And he indicated that ‘other venues where large crowds gather’ could also be made to adopt the checks.

Sportsmail understands that would include football matches and other sports events.

If the measure is introduced, Government would be expected to fall back on the previous definition of ‘large crowds’, set out in step three of the roadmap out of lockdown, which was a capacity of 16,000 spectators.

However, the legal requirement on football fans to be vaccinated before they attend games – a negative Covid test would not be enough – will only come into force if coronavirus infections rates, deaths and hospitalisations are high or there are dangerous variants circulating. 

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It represents a major U-turn, after Cabinet ministers Michael Gove and Nadhim Zahawi previously denied there were plans to introduce so-called ‘Covid status certification’. 

Night-time economy bosses have reacted angrily to the plans, calling the move ‘yet another chaotic U-turn’ and a ‘bad idea’, with eight in 10 nightclubs warning they do not want to implement vaccine passports amid concerns the requirement will damage their trade even further.

Former chief whip Mark Harper, who chairs the Covid Recovery Group of Tory lockdown-sceptics, criticised the plans as ‘effectively moving to compulsory vaccination’.

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt, the Conservative chairman of the Health and Social Care Committee, questioned why the Government was delaying the plans until the autumn.

And Labour’s shadow health minister Justin Madders said: ‘How can it be safe to go to nightclubs now, with no protective measures, if in September it will require double jab status? It makes no sense.

‘This proposal is more confusion and incompetence from the heart of Government at the expense of public health. They need to get a grip.’

Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, said last night: ‘The announcement from the Prime Minister that Covid passports will be made mandatory for night clubs in September comes after his Health Secretary said only one week ago that they would not be compulsory. What an absolute shambles.

‘Leaving aside the fact that this is yet another chaotic U-turn that will leave night clubs who have been planning for reopening for months having to make more changes to the way they operate – this is still a bad idea.

‘Eighty per cent of nightclubs have said they do not want to implement Covid passports, worrying about difficulties with enforcing the system and a reduction in spontaneous consumers, as well as being put at a competitive disadvantage with pubs and bars that aren’t subject to the same restrictions and yet provide similar environments.

‘The Government’s own report into vaccine passports found they were more trouble than they’re worth – so what could possibly explain the about turn, just as millions across the UK experience their first taste of a night out in a year and a half?’

Sacha Lord, night time economy adviser for Greater Manchester, said: ‘The whole industry has been taken by surprise by this measure. I am deeply concerned by the discriminatory nature for those who either can’t have the vaccine for medical reasons or age, or who do not want to.’ 

Source: Daily Mail


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