15 July 2021

Covid passports ‘non-starter’, says pub chief ahead of July 19

15 July 2021

The boss of one of the UK’s biggest pub and brewing firms has said the use of Covid passports in venues is a “non-starter” and criticised the Government for “passing the buck” to businesses.

Patrick Dardis, chief executive of Young’s, told the PA news agency that the pub group will not require vaccine certification for customers or staff from July 19.

It comes after Government guidance, released on Wednesday, encouraged pubs, restaurants and nightclubs to check vaccine and testing status as a condition of entry through the NHS Covid Pass.

The Prime Minister also said that masks will be encouraged but that it is no longer a legal requirement inside venues.

The New Inn, Ealing

Mr Dardis told PA that hospitality firms are having to take responsibility for decisions “the Government should be making”.

“It’s passing the buck and avoiding the big decisions,” he said.

“They said the work from home message will end, then they said it wouldn’t. The guidance is just riddled with confusion and that makes our job really complex.

“It’s all coulds, woulds, and shoulds, without actually taking a firm stance that could give people confidence.”

The chief executive said he believes that Covid passports, which have been suggested by the Government for the sector, would be too difficult to police.

He said: “It’s a non-starter as far as I’m concerned.

“It’s completely unnecessary and would be absolutely chaos to implement across this type of business.

“I feel like they don’t understand the demands on a business like ours, and it’s quite a scary place when we are having to deal with this confusion when we really need support.”

There may be some inconsistency for customers between venues so we respectfully ask that they show patience with our staff as we move to a new regime

The London-based company, which runs 273 pubs across the UK, said it will no longer ask staff or customers to wear masks and leave this decision to individual preference.

It added that customers will be able to order from its bars again, although table service and app ordering will remain in place.

More tables will be reintroduced into venues although other measures, such as ventilation, will stay in place across its pubs.

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade body UKHospitality, said: “The Government guidance makes clear that the majority of decisions are in the hands of hospitality businesses, which are best placed to understand what happens in their premises.

“There may be some inconsistency for customers between venues so we respectfully ask that they show patience with our staff as we move to a new regime.

“Covid passports for walk-up hospitality would be a costly burden for hard-pressed businesses and could create flashpoints between staff and customers, as well as raising potential issues with equalities legislation and the handling of customers’ data.

“For businesses to get back to profitability, it’s vital they are able to arrive at solutions that suit their business model without incurring extra costs.”

The best videos delivered daily

Watch the stories that matter, right from your inbox