Covid passport rules 'another blow' for Portsmouth's nightlife, club owner says

A CITY club owner has hit out at a decision to require Covid vaccine passports at large venues by the end of the month – calling it ‘another blow’ for the industry.

Sunday, 5th September 2021, 3:37 pm
Re-opening night of Astoria nightclub in Portsmouth after the Gov have relaxed the Covid restrictions. Pictured are revellers having fun on the night. Picture: Sam Stephenson

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi this weekend confirmed the passports will be needed by the end of September – meaning unvaccinated or those with just one jab won’t be able to attend certain places and events.

Speaking to Sky he said it was the ‘right thing to do’ to ensure the whole economy remains open.

However, the owner of Astoria in the city centre, Alistair Ritchie, said government had yet to explain exactly how the system will work.

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He said: ‘We still have yet to be issued with the rules which is not helpful because the end of September isn’t far away.

‘We are disappointed our industry is being used as a bribe for young people to get vaccinated. It means less people will come out.

‘We were probably the hardest-hit industry by the pandemic and this is yet another blow.’

To gain entry to venues people who are double jabbed will be able to prove their status via the NHS app.

Mr Zahawi said: ‘We are looking at, by the end of September when everyone has had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated, for the large venues, venues that could end up causing a real spike in infections, where we need to use the certification process.

‘If you look at what the FA have done, they’ve done so brilliantly in terms of checking vaccine status to reopen football.

‘That is the sort of right thing to do and we are absolutely on track to continue to make sure that we do that.

‘There’s a reason for that … the reason being is that, I, as does the prime minister, want to make sure the whole economy remains open.

‘The worst thing we can do for those venues is to have a sort of open-shut-open-shut strategy because we see infection rates rise because of the close interaction of people, that’s how the virus spreads, if people are in close spaces in large numbers we see spikes appearing.

‘The best thing to do then is to work with the industry to make sure that they can open safely and sustainably in the long term, and the best way to do that is to check vaccine status.’

Government figures show as of September 3, 130,096 people in Portsmouth had both jabs – or 66.9 per cent of those eligible.