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  • Writer's pictureJim Douglas

British Live Concert Industry Backs Vaccine Passports for Shows and Festivals

Ahead of the full-scale return of non-socially distanced entertainment events, the British live concert industry is backing “vaccine passports” for shows and festivals.

Multiple British live concert industry bodies and organizers have come out in favor of developing a vaccine-passport system, which would presumably enable attendees to quickly demonstrate that they’ve received a COVID-19 vaccine as a condition for admittance.

UK Music indicated in a report that it was “working with government to develop guidance for how to hold events safely,” for instance. Hospitality Weekend in the Woods’ Josh Robinson said in a statement that he and others “want to urge government to follow the example set up already in other areas,” including the travel sphere, in terms of mandating a COVID-19 vaccine passport.

And Cropredy Convention director Gareth Williams echoed the sentiment: “What we really need is for government to say everybody needs a vaccination to get in [to concerts and music festivals].”

Separately, the Music Venue Trust (MVT) has partnered with a tech startup called You Check to develop a sort of digital “health passport” – not solely a vaccine passport – and the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee-approved project will be tested in multiple UK clubs this month.

While You Check app users can presumably input their vaccination status, higher-ups also showcased a feature that will allow live-music attendees to specify when they were last tested for COVID-19 – meaning, of course, that venues would admit only those who supplied proof of a recent (negative) novel coronavirus test.

The latter point is especially noteworthy because some individuals and organizations oppose the idea of a vaccination passport, including for privacy reasons, the fact that the efficacy of COVID-19 vaccines depends upon the specific shot(s) one receives, and more.

An individual named David Nolan created a petition, entitled “Do not rollout Covid-19 vaccine passports,” which has garnered approximately 275,000 signatures thus far. Said petition claims “such passports could be used to restrict the rights of people who have refused a Covid-19 vaccine, which would be unacceptable.”

Parliament is set to formally debate the matter one week from today, on Monday, March 15th, and approximately one-third of the UK’s 66 million residents have received at least the first COVID-19 vaccine.

Plus, Prime Minister Boris Johnson last month ordered a review of vaccine passports. However, Johnson also relayed in an interview: “We never thought in terms of having something that you have to show to go to a pub or a theater. There are deep and complex issues that we need to explore, ethical issues about what the role is for government in mandating…We can’t be discriminatory against people who, for whatever reason, can’t have the vaccine.”

Many British live concert industry professionals (as well as organizers in the United States) remain confident that non-socially distanced music will return later in 2021. However, the year’s opening nine or so weeks have suggested that the comeback may be rockier than anticipated, as Glastonbury has been canceled for the second year in a row, while Taylor Swift has put each of her previously scheduled gigs on ice indefinitely.

Lastly, Ticketmaster in 2020 specified that it won’t personally check attendees’ vaccination status or COVID-19 test history. Lupe Fiasco, for his part, will require fans to show that they’ve received the vaccine in order to attend his gigs.

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Mar 30, 2021

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