Companies that have chosen to implement controls say they have faced a backlash from social media from anti-vaccine and “freedom” campaigners.
The UK has so far attempted to encourage companies at higher risk of COVID transmission to voluntarily adopt its NHS COVID Pass, allowing customers to prove they are free from the virus. Users can show that they have received two doses of an approved vaccine, a negative PCR or lateral flow test result within 48 hours of entry, or that they have natural immunity.
Guidelines encouraging businesses to use the pass were updated in July, making it clear that some sites “may choose to apply for the NHS COVID Pass”, and saying the government would “encourage use of this” at sites with a high chance to mix with other households. But he made it clear that the movement remained “voluntary for individual organizations.”
Business owners who have used the program so far say they have been abused, amid customer confusion over the extent of the controls.
The situation has not been helped, they say, by Boris Johnson, whose government is keen to increase vaccination rates among young people, and who upped the ante last month by threatening to “do full vaccination. the condition of entry into nightclubs and other places where large crowds gather ”by September.
Ultimate Power Club, which holds events in London and Manchester and has chosen to set up a COVID Pass system, has received “a whole bunch of horrible Facebook comments and abusive emails, some amounting to death threats ”from activists who were convinced they were insisting on double-barreling, a spokesperson for the venue said.
Media coverage of the company’s policy did not clarify that lateral flow testing and natural immunity through infection – not just vaccination – would also allow clubbers to enter. The promoter was quickly accused of insisting on full vaccination to attend club nights “as Boris Johnson talked about arriving in September,” the spokesperson said.
While organizers had “no problems at night,” with clubbers without passes being able to go to a 24-hour testing center to get a negative lateral flow test, he warned that the The picture on COVID checks had become “very confusing”.
“In our opinion, this is what the government suggested to nightclubs to do, although many are not, and [it] was no different than what people were asked to do for countless test events, for example at Wimbledon and Lords, ”the spokesperson said, referring to top tennis and cricket events to whom the NHS COVID Pass was used to verify entry.
“Initially, we thought we would be mistreated by people for not having COVID checks, so we decided it would be better to do them,” he said. “Now it turns out that we were mistreated by people because they thought they were different from checks than they really were. It really feels like you can’t win at the moment. ”
The organization said it had not received any help from the government in implementing the controls.
A government spokesperson stressed that no one should “face abuse for doing the right thing”.
“We are working closely with organizations that operate large, overcrowded environments, to encourage use of the NHS COVID Pass where appropriate, and have given businesses time to prepare before September, when full vaccination becomes a requirement. ‘entry to a number of places where large crowds gather,’ they added in a statement.
Even before the threat of Johnson’s vaccination passport, a movie group said he had been targeted by anti-containment and anti-vaccine campaigners, with personal details of people helping run trials of events broadcast online.
George Wood, managing director of Luna Cinema, told the BBC in April he had received emails accusing Luna of being part of a ‘passport to vaccination’ program – even though attendees did not have to show proof vaccination, only evidence of a recent negative COVID-19 test. The abuses included personal attacks and even messages comparing the organizer to the Nazis.
Jabs for jobs
Other companies have gone further and have faced hostility. Pimlico Plumbers has made it clear that anyone applying for a job with the company must have been vaccinated against COVID-19, angering some.
The government’s position on the so-called “jabs for jobs” is mixed. The British parliament approved mandatory vaccinations for nursing home staff in England in June. The ministers spoke in favor of such regimes.
However, requiring jabs remains a decision for individual employers. The same government spokesperson quoted above said that while the UK would ‘welcome employers encouraging their staff to get vaccinated’, those looking to verify immunization status should consider ‘how it fits with their legal obligations in employment, equality, data protection and health and safety law. “
A spokesperson for Pimlico said their decision to demand jabs generated “a certain amount of vitriol from the usual anonymous suspects on social media” – although they did not take it to heart. “We tend not to take them too seriously because they clearly represent a fairly minority opinion,” the spokesperson said.
Former No.10 pollster James Johnson, who now runs his own firm JL Partners, agrees that companies can have the public on their side when they deploy COVID controls.
“It’s really a pretty simple story. Polls show fairly significant levels of support for [vaccine passports,] and there is already a kind of supportive predisposition, even before we get into the fact that people themselves have received the vaccines, ”he said.
The successful rollout of the vaccine in the UK “supercharges the support,” he said.
“When people talk about it in focus groups, they don’t really mind because they don’t see any harm to themselves. They don’t really think about it from a sector point of view. the perspective of a pub owner or nightclub owner. They just see it from a ‘I got the jab’ point of view.