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28 November 2021

Opinion from Adrian Leopard & Co

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After saying no no no for months, government advice now says yes yes yes. Hospitality asked to use covid pass as a condition of entry
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After saying no no no for months, government advice now says yes yes yes. Hospitality asked to use covid pass as a condition of entry

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Moreover Downing Street says covid passports may be made compulsory in the autumn as a protection against a fourth wave. Time to design a "covid-safe" mark

What have we been saying for months? Yes – hospitality ought to be using the covid pass to show vaccinations as a condition of entry.

And what has the government been saying? Oh no, that’s not what it is for.

Well, apparently it is after all! Government guidance issued in advance of “Freedom Day”, urges hospitality businesses to retain most coronavirus restrictions and consider checking customers’ covid certification as a condition of entry.

With effect from 19th July all legal restrictions are being dropped; masks will not be required and neither will social distancing. However in what can only be described as a very surprising volte face, the government wants businesses to continue to operate ordering at table, check in customers, discourage of self-service, use contactless payments etc and to check vaccination and testing status as a condition of entry.

Some of these items of advice are going to be difficult. The problem with social distancing is that it has meant a big reduction in effective sales space for every hospitality business and many have said they could not operate at a profit if they had to continue to do so. Removal of the one metre plus rule is without doubt the most important feature in the dropping of the regulations.

However, others of the current soon-to-go restrictions can be retained without any real difficulty at all. Welcoming customers, getting them to sign in, a preference towards table service do not really impact greatly on most businesses and if welcoming customers means checking their covid vaccination status then this is all well and good. Such a measure will make a huge difference in the confidence which the general public is going to have in whether any given premises are safe.

The government says every business will have to carry out a risk assessment.

We predicted a week ago that there would soon be a bench mark of sorts which would indicate “covid-safe in these premises”. If businesses are prepared to continue to maintain high and recognised standards of safety then this will make all the difference to acceptance of a return to normality of sorts by the public.

It has to be said that at the moment the leaders of the hospitality industry are doubtful about all of this and want further clarification. In fairness they have been against all of these measures from the word go on the grounds that it will impose too much cost on their members. However, at the end of the day the public will vote with their feet and if I were the owner of a hospitality business I would want them to use their feet to come into my premises and I would do whatever it took to woo them to do so!

Apparently it is also mooted that the government is conserving plans to make presentation of covid passports into hospitality businesses compulsory come the autumn. Normally one would castigate a government for changing its mind so dramatically but it is a fact that there will be a lot of people breathing a sigh of relief at these moves.

Nonetheless, the requirement to show a covid passport seems like a pretty reasonable trade off for the removal or reduction of social distancing measures inside. There will never be “no risk” but with all patrons vaccinated, the risk drops to an acceptably low level. This really does justify the raising of your glass!

Adrian Leopard 15-07-21

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