Question of the day: Will Boris Johnson’s vaccine passports policy help keep nightclubs safe – or just push people into the hands of plague raves? A closer look at this issue…

I believe this blog has a duty to be upfront with everyone who reads it. When I like something, I’ll tell you. When I don’t like something, I’ll tell you. And exactly the same applies when I’m uneasy or unsure about something.

And the latter category firmly applies here. Vaccine passports are something the British government have been talking about for months – and they’re a reality in many countries. The Republic of Ireland, for example. require proof of vaccine in order to eat inside restaurants at the moment.

If Boris Johnson has his way, English nightclubs will be introducing the same thing at the door around late September. Theoretically, I should be glad to see this happening. Keeping out the unvaccinated so the rest of us could be safe? Sounds good… but only in theory. In practice, it’s an idea that has me feeling extremely uncomfortable.

As I wrote back on June 20th, there is a very real danger the government will use this to stage a power grab. Given that this is Boris Johnson and the Tories we’re talking about, they’re even less trustworthy than Labour politicians. However, I saw a video recently by DJ and producer Sy Sez – real name Simon McGuinness- which got me thinking about this subject again. Here it is for your pleasure… (contains a little swearing at the end)

https://www.instagram.com/tv/CRl816eh4bj/

Firstly, the vaccines available against Covid-19 are good, but they’re not perfect. And with the high rates of infection at the moment, this could lead to the situation where a double jabbed person could go to the venue and be infected, whilst a non-vaccinated person who isn’t infected could not go. This situation just doesn’t make sense.

Secondly, this looks at the moment very much like discrimination. People tend to stay around in one nightclub for several hours, possibly a whole night. Pub crawls are a well known thing, club crawls not so much. You won’t have to prove your status to eat in a restaurant or drink in a pub, but you will to go into a club? This also makes little sense. Going to nightclubs may not be seen as essential by many people, but they’re in the lifeblood of others.

Thirdly, the government is waiting until September to introduce the scheme, but have already opened nightclubs up. The reason they provide is it wouldn’t be fair to introduce it now when many younger people won’t have received both their vaccine jabs yet. But this is an extremely odd application of science, if ever there was one.

If the government had mandated proof of vaccine status or negative Covid tests from day one of opening clubs, this might make some sense. But as they haven’t, it doesn’t.

And fourthly, this move could actually increase the risks to public health. You could end up creating a two-tier scene. One which consists of legal nights out, vaccine status apps and all. The other consists of what have become colloquially known over the past year as plague raves. Events where no vaccine status is required – nor any negative test before going, not to mention lack of amenities and all the safety issues associated with these kinds of illegal events. And when Test and Trace come calling, how many people are really going to admit they were at such an event?

The argument that people should be free to go party is a very libertarian one, but misunderstood. Yes, you do have the right to go clubbing – but that should not come at a negative cost to anyone around you. And potentially infecting someone with a virus for which there is no cure is not an acceptable price to pay, no matter how desperate anyone is to hit a dancefloor.

A scheme like this has to be introduced for either everything or nothing. Which is potentially where it could fail. Imagine you had to be double jabbed to go to the cinema? Imagine you had to have both doses in order to attend a leisure centre, a theme park or any other public place? At this point, the discussion would affect a huge number of people and such scrutiny could well cause the whole thing to fall apart.

Hence why there’s currently all this focus on nightclubs and undefined “mass gatherings”. Nightclubs and the night time industries more widely have very few links to the ruling Conservative Party – and this very media-savvy government will be acutely aware of polls like the one saying 26% of respondents would be happy to see nightclubs effectively disappear forever. They can say this stuff and get away with it.

The leaders of the scene have few, if any, contacts within the government whom they can speak to. The dance music press isn’t going to help – never mind protecting the interests of the scene, they’re far too busy protecting their own interests. So who is going to lead the fight against it? Who is going to use these arguments, and more, to persuade politicians this isn’t a road they want to go down?

Time could be short on this one…