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Sun 4th Apr 2021 - Government to ditch plans to force customers to show vaccine passports when they visit the pub
Government to ditch plans to force customers to show vaccine passports when they visit the pub: Prime minister Boris Johnson has ditched plans to force customers to show a vaccine passport every time they go into a pub or restaurant. According to reports over the weekend, the prime minister will exempt pubs and restaurants from new covid safety rules, when he gives an update on his reopening plan tomorrow (Monday, 5 April). Johnson is expected to announce a new NHS app confirming the holder has had the jab, a recent negative test or covid-19 in the previous six months will be needed to enter theatres, cinemas, and sports and music events after 21 June. It is reported nightclubs will be included on the list of places where a “covid passport” will be needed for entry. Bars and restaurants will not be included, a concession to rebel MPs. Pub gardens are due to open on Monday, 12 April; indoor bars and restaurants on Monday, 17 May. According to the Sunday Times, ministers will consult the hospitality industry on how those venues will operate, and there is likely to be debate over where the line is drawn between a “quiet pub and a packed bar on a Friday night, where crowds can resemble those in a nightclub”. The prime minister will announce a new NHS app will be set up to record people’s vaccine status. For those without smartphones, a paper certificate will be produced, which will also be given to those with medical exemptions or for whom repeat testing is inappropriate. The legislation will have a one-year time limit. A document to be published tomorrow will detail the eight trial events, including the FA Cup final, that the government is running where crowd members will be tested before and afterwards. UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls tweeted: “If confirmed this is positive news for pubs, restaurants and hotels, but there remain challenges to operationalise this in other settings and we need to ensure they can open viably from 21 June before a certification process is brought in.”

Propel Premium subscribers to receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews: Premium subscribers now receive access to Propel’s library of lockdown videos and Friday Wrap interviews. Subscribers receive a password that allows them to instantly watch the interviews, which feature industry leaders such as The Restaurant Group chief executive Andy Hornby, PizzaExpress managing director Zoe Bowley and Rekom UK chief executive Peter Marks sharing their lessons of lockdown. Meanwhile, guests on the Friday Wrap discussing their views on the sector include UKHospitality chief executive Kate Nicholls, Greene King chief executive Nick Mackenzie and sector investor Luke Johnson. Subscribers also receive exclusive access to the Propel multi-site operator database. The exhaustive database of businesses, which comprises 1,628 companies, is the most comprehensive multi-site operator information in the sector – and reflects the tumultuous changes of the past year with several hundred businesses disappearing and replaced by several hundred new ones. A new multi-site database will be sent to Premium subscribers at the end of each month with a report on new companies and changes in the multi-site universe. It provides company names, the people in charge, how many sites each firm operates, its trading name and its registered name at Companies House if different, and what each business specialises in. In a new feature this year, there is a synopsis of what the business does and significant news associated with it. Propel Premium subscribers also receive their morning newsletter 11 hours early, at 7pm the evening before our 6am send-out; regular video content and regular exclusive columns from Propel insights editor Mark Wingett. An annual premium subscription costs £395 plus VAT for operators and £495 plus VAT for suppliers. Email anne.steele@propelinfo.com to sign up.

Osmond – our shackled hospitality industry is losing £200m a day, there is no logic to delaying reopening: Serial sector investor Hugh Osmond has said with data showing a negative relationship between venues and covid transmission, ministers must urgently review damaging roadmap dates. Writing in The Telegraph, Osmond, the founder of Punch, said: “There is some hope this weekend for those of us who cherish British freedom and who crave a return to rational and democratic governing. On Thursday (1 April), Sacha Lord and I issued proceedings against the government on the basis the hospitality reopening date was based upon prejudice rather than evidence and was hence unlawful. It makes no sense to open indoor ‘non-essential’ retail five weeks before indoor hospitality. Within hours of receiving our papers, and with hospitality losing £200m each day it remains closed, Mr Justice Swift decided our case was urgent enough to require the health secretary to file a response to the court by 10am Tuesday (6 April). No concession in timing was granted for Easter or the bank holiday. Like the public, hospitality venues have done everything they have been asked. They closed when they were told to, spent money going beyond the safety standards set by the government, and were deemed so safe by ministers last summer that the public was subsidised to come and visit us with the Eat Out To Help Out scheme. Yet today, having vaccinated more than 30 million vulnerable adults, and with our ‘covid-secure’ measures in place, we are banned from opening for a full five weeks after people start browsing and mingling indoors in non-essential shops. Given the more than three million people who work in the hospitality industry – many of whom are young, female and from an ethnic minority – and the tens of thousands of businesses, suppliers, landlords and contractors, we were hoping for at least a conversation with ministers and officials to find a resolution. Yet we have been told a meeting would not be ‘fruitful’, even though the legal process urges parties to meet to attempt to avoid court. How can a British government behave like this, saying it does ‘not intend to debate the sufficiency or nature of the evidence and data relied on’? Nobody, not even government ministers, not even during a pandemic, should be above the law. Thankfully, it appears the judge agrees this is worthy of urgent examination. I am hoping the chancellor supports our cause: in defending Eat Out To Help Out he said analysis of Public Health England data had revealed a ‘very small percentage’ of the causes of transmission were hospitality settings, warned of a ‘big difference between correlation and causation’, and cautioned against us ‘jumping to simplistic conclusions’. Yet the government’s roadmap opening programme has done just that. In fact, the Treasury, one part of the government that should be good with figures, pointed to official data showing a negative relationship between hospitality venues and transmission. How can the health secretary refuse to meet us to discuss SAGE’s advice, while the second most senior minister is contradicting the conclusions upon which the government is basing the roadmap? In a democracy, evidence and rationality should still matter, and so too should transparency, challenge and accountability. the government has been given an easy ride in parliament with the official opposition being nowhere to be seen. This has led to arbitrariness, randomness and a complete lack of logic in the rules, and we are starting to see it being accompanied by something even more sinister: an arrogance, and a sense that ministers are above scrutiny. The government left us no choice but to take it to court and regardless of the eventual outcome of the case, I am grateful to Mr Justice Swift (whose name seems so apt) for recognising this is a truly urgent matter affecting the lives of millions of people, that simply cannot wait.”

Hancock summoned to the High Court to justify opening shops before pubs: Health secretary Matt Hancock has been ordered to the High Court on Tuesday (6 April) to justify why he is allowing non-essential shops to open before pubs and restaurants. The legal action has been brought by nightclubs operator Sacha Lord and former PizzaExpress boss Hugh Osmond to try to force the early opening of hospitality venues. According to High Court documents seen by The Telegraph, the pair are challenging “the Health Protection (Coronavirus, Restrictions) (Steps) (England) Regulations 2021 to the extent those regulations provide for non-essential retail businesses to reopen before indoor hospitality businesses”. The order from Mr Justice Swift said "the secretary of state shall by 10am on Tuesday April 6 2021 file and serve his response to the application” from the pair. Last week, Lord said the government had refused to engage over the issue of why indoor hospitality cannot open on the same day as non-essential retail and, therefore, his legal action to force a judicial review would resume. Lord tweeted: “Last week, the government failed to introduce any new evidence. As a team, we agreed to mediate. After deliberating for a few days, it’s now refused to engage. Legals now resume. Long shot, but we’ve won before. Hospitality should open in line with non-essential retail.” Although Hancock has been summoned to the High Court, it is likely officials in his department will have to attend court on his behalf. A government spokeswoman said it could not comment on legal proceedings. She added: “As the prime minister has said, we want this lockdown to be the last. Our roadmap sets out a phased approach to cautiously easing restrictions, informed by scientific experts, and we continue to act in response to the latest available evidence to protect the NHS and save lives. We have continued to support the hospitality sector throughout the pandemic, including our new £5bn Restart Grant scheme, extending the furlough scheme and the VAT cut, and providing 750,000 businesses in hospitality and other sectors with business rates relief.” Andy Burnham, mayor of Greater Manchester, tweeted: “I’ve never understood why shops are seen as lower risk than pubs and restaurants. 1. It’s harder to maintain distancing in shops 2. Opening hospitality reduces gatherings in homes. I might be wrong and that’s why we need to see the evidence.”

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