Clubbing and Covid passports: ‘Protect vulnerable people’ or ‘against civil liberties’?


Clubbing is back. On 19 July 2021, from 00:01, clubs were able to re-open after more than year closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

But soon it will only be an option for those who’ve had two doses of a Covid vaccination.

From the end of September, people in England going to clubs and some other venues will have to be fully vaccinated, the government announced earlier this week.

It’s a decision which has split opinions.

For some, like 23-year-old Alice Pettitt “it will protect vulnerable people”, but others, like 29-year-old Greg Cashman, tell Radio 1 Newsbeat it goes against his “civil liberties and freedoms”.

Before the pandemic Alice would go out about three or four times a week.

“I had a ticket to go to Fabric the night after the Euros final but I was told by the NHS app I needed to self-isolate.”

She’s now decided to wait until she’s fully vaccinated before she goes clubbing and thinks vaccine passports for nightclubs is good.

“It’ll mean I can go out and I’m at less of risk of catching Covid and having to self isolate. I’ll feel a lot safer and it would be a better environment for everyone to be in a club.”

Alice feels those not willing to get the jab are putting vulnerable people at risk.

People wanting to go to a club or other venues will need a NHS Covid pass.

“How is it fair you’re denying those people the chance to go clubbing?

“If you’re healthy and are able to be vaccinated it makes sense to be jabbed so you’re putting yourself and others at less risk,” she added.

Latest figures show 35% of 18 to 30-year-olds have not had their first jab.

Greg has tickets to the Ministry of Sound at the end of September, but he hasn’t had a vaccination and doesn’t plan to get one.

“I will not be having it through personal choice,” the 29-year-old tells Newsbeat.

“I live an active lifestyle, I’m in the gym four or five times a week, my cardio is good so I feel I don’t need to have this vaccine.”

Greg also feels the people close to him are protected, with the majority of his close family and friends having had the vaccine.

But while he doesn’t plan to get vaccinated, Greg wouldn’t discourage others from getting jabbed.

“I have made clear this is a personal choice, it is against my civil liberties and freedom.”

At the moment this is not a legal requirement – so clubs don’t have to ask for proof of jabs, but that is set to change when the government’s new rules are introduced in September.

“If I don’t get let in I don’t know what I will do, I’ll be complaining more and more.”

Georgie Hodges is extremely clinically vulnerable, and was shielding from March 2020 to May 2021.

The 21-year-old would feel more comfortable if people were double vaccinated, but says it should be accepted that some have “genuine health concerns for not wanting a vaccine”.

Georgie says she won’t be going to a club until Covid cases drop.

“I don’t feel comfortable. Especially with how hot and enclosed nightclubs can be, I wouldn’t be comfortable going for quite a while now.”

She suggests a negative test is perhaps a better way for people to be given entry to a club rather than having to prove you’re double vaccinated.

The possibility of vaccine passports has also caused anger among the nightclub industry.

There are concerns about a reduction in spontaneous consumers and worries about being disadvantaged against pubs and bars which may not have the same requirements, according to Michael Kill, boss of the Night Time Industries Association.

“80% of nightclubs have said they do not want to implement Covid passports, worrying about difficulties with enforcing the system,” he said this week.

‘We don’t want to close nightclubs’

In his announcement, Boris Johnson said the “end of September” plan for Covid passports in clubs was because it would give over-18s time to get double vaccinated.

But he didn’t rule out having to shut clubs down, and said he was concerned by the continuing risk of transmission.

“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,” The Prime Minister said.

“We do reserve the right to mandate certification at any point if it’s necessary to reduce transmission.”