Pubs, restaurants and nightclubs operators are not planning to turn into coronavirus (COVID-19) police in the UK.
Hospitality chiefs said they do not have the technology to scan COVID vaccine passports and do not know how to check QR codes produced by the National Health Service (NHS) app as proof of double vaccination, immunity or a recent negative COVID test.
UK’s Health Secretary Sajid Javid announced on July 12 that businesses and large events would be “encouraged” to use the NHS COVID Pass in “high risk settings.”
The COVID Pass is available through the same general NHS app as the travel certificate. It incorporates test results and naturally acquired immunity from COVID infection in the last six months.
The government has not set out exactly which venues will be encouraged to use the COVID Pass, stating only that it will work with venues that operate “large, crowded settings where people are likely to be in close proximity to others outside their household.” This could refer to pubs, restaurants nightclubs and venues of large events. (Related: England now ready to adopt vaccine passports for mass events.)
Business owners said the vaccine passports could be easily faked because they had not been supplied with the technology to check proof of identity.
A government spokesman said an app to allow businesses to scan QR codes would be released on July 17, just two days before the new guidance takes effect. But industry sources pointed out that many restaurants and pubs do not have QR readers and questioned whether staff would need to use their personal phones.
“It’s just another reason why this scheme is totally unworkable,” said Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality.
“Without being able to scan the QR code, it makes it very difficult to prove this person’s actual COVID status. It won’t work on the door and I don’t know a single one of my members who will be ready to do this on Monday.”
Similar measure in France met with protests
In France, President Emmanuel Macron’s plan to require a COVID-19 vaccine certificate or negative PCR test to gain entry to bars, restaurants and cinemas beginning next month was met with dozens of protests. France’s new COVID laws will also make vaccination compulsory for healthcare workers beginning September 15.
France’s Ministry of the Interior said that there were 53 different protests throughout the country. (Related: Vaccine passport now MANDATORY in France, following more than a year of corporate media propagandists claiming the idea was a “conspiracy theory.”)
The French authorities put the total number of protesters at 19,000. Some 2,250 people protested in Paris while other demonstrations took place in Lyon, Toulouse, Annecy, Bordeaux, Montpellier, Nantes and elsewhere.
In Lyon, police fired tear gas grenades to try and contain a large demonstration in the city center. At least 1,400 mostly young people had gathered to protests against Macron’s announcement, police estimated. Protesters allegedly threw projectiles at the police before the authorities responded with tear gas.
In Toulouse, a small rally was held by several “Yellow Vests” groups on Wednesday morning, while a small group of people in Annecy forced their way into the local council offices without causing any damage. Between 150 and 200 people remained in the courtyard of the building for over an hour, the Haute-Savoie prefecture said. Hundreds of people also gathered in Montpellier, Marseille, Perpignan and Rouen to protest against the restrictions.
Worse than a lockdown
Some regions in Russia have also announced that people have to present QR codes, vaccination certificates or negative PCR tests to stay in hotels or visit bars and restaurants.
Authorities from the Vladimir region ruled that QR codes were needed to visit restaurants, gyms, beauty parlors, hairdressers, cinemas and to stay in hotels.
The restrictions were criticized by local business operators who said in a statement the measures had been adopted in the middle of the tourist season and threatened the closure of thousands of firms in the service industries. “We have almost zero revenues. We don’t know what we can say tomorrow to staff the landlords, and suppliers,” said Dmitry Bolshakov, owner of the cafe chain Vladim Group.
Three days after the measures came into effect the authorities met business owners and agreed to ease some of the measures.
“It’s worse than a lockdown,” said Marina Zemskova, president of the association of hotels and restaurants in the Vladimir region. “Because if there was one, we would have a complete closure and could count on some kind of government support measures.”
Moscow had also required residents to present a QR code demonstrating they have been vaccinated against COVID-19 or have immunity in order to sit inside cafes, restaurants and bars since June 28.
But Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin recently announced on television that starting July 19 the Russian capital is “canceling mandatory QR codes in catering.”