Furious Burnley club boss blasts 'disgusting' plans for Covid vaccine passports

A Burnley club boss says he will not be turning away unvaccinated customers when controversial Covid passports arrive later this year.

The government has said full vaccination will be required to enter "higher risk" clubs and venues with large crowds from September.

Andy Mac, who runs Ships and Giggles in Hargreaves Street, branded the plans "outrageous", and yet another hurdle for the already hard-pressed hospitality sector to have to overcome.

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"Angry is not the word! I think it’s absolutely outrageous, disgusting and downright wrong to force this utter nonsense on people and use nightclubs to enforce it!

Ships and Giggles, Burnley; inset, Andy Mac.

"I for one will be refusing point blank to only allow people into my venue with both jabs! It’s not going to happen! Let me make that clear now.

"They can take my Ship but they will never take away my customers right to choose."

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During a press conference on Monday, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that 35% of 18 to 30-year-olds – three million people – are currently completely unvaccinated, but that “some of life’s most important pleasures and opportunities are likely to be increasingly dependent on vaccination".

He said: “I don’t want to have to close nightclubs again as they have elsewhere, but it does mean nightclubs need to do the socially responsible thing and make use of the NHS Covid pass.

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“I should serve notice now that by the end of September, when all over-18s will have had their chance to be double jabbed, we are planning to make full vaccination the condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather.”

Nightclubs were only allowed to re-open their doors on Monday after almost 18 months of closure.

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It is not yet clear whether proof of vaccination will be needed to enter bars and pubs as well, with ambiguity surrounding the phrase "where large crowds gather".

Andy said it does not matter where the government tries to enforce vaccine passports, he will not be doing it.

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"How dare they think the can force this on people and use nightclubs as their little guinea pigs to enforce it. I won’t be doing it. Not now, not tomorrow, not ever!

"I don’t give two hoots if people have both jabs or not, it’s their decision to make."

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Michael Kill, chief executive officer of the Night Time Industries Association, has slammed the government’s plans as an “absolute shambles”.

The trade body boss said: “So, ‘freedom day’ for nightclubs lasted around 17 hours then.

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“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 will now have to make more changes to the way they operate – this is still a bad idea.”

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A statement from the Music Venue Trust, which represents grassroots music venues, responded to the announcement, said: “The government needs to bring forward a workable, usable and accurate certification process that is in wide use across society and is accepted as normal and necessary by the public.

“Singling out nightclubs, or music venues, or any other cultural activity, as spaces required to deliver such a policy won’t work without the tools to do it and without addressing the obvious point that most grassroots music venues have lower capacities and lower total attendees per day than pubs.

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“We note that the aim is to ‘boost vaccine uptake among young people’. The aim of certification should be the safety of the public.”