Understanding vaccine passport rules is enough to drive you to drink – and now government documents reveal not only could they do precisely that, but they could INCREASE Covid transmission rates too…

Every evening from around 10pm, the front pages of the following day’s newspapers start to come in. I occasionally have a look at them, and whilst taking a peep last night, I caught the front page of today’s Daily Telegraph. It featured the eye-catching headline of “Vaccine passports could push people to pubs”.

And it’s quite a good story, as it happens. Their journalist has seen a confidential document going around within government talking about the “economic and social impact of Covid certification”. The report in question has a revealing section in it, discussing one of the risks with the vaccine passport policy. This document relates to England – Scotland already has such a policy in place, and Wales has a policy of requesting a negative test or vaccine status.

The document reads “A core concern is that certification could displace activity and business away from music venues to, say, pubs with music and late alcohol licences… if certification displaces some fans from structured and well-ventilated sports stadia, this could lead to the, attending unstructured and poorly ventilated pubs instead where they will have access to more alcohol than if they were in the stadia.”.

In other words, people who are being turned away from nightclubs because they can’t prove their vaccine status or haven’t been vaccinated against Covid-19 are likely to go to pubs instead – because no proof will be requested there. And they’re going to get drunk, start putting their arms around everyone – and then start showing symptoms of Covid a week later. Or so the message appears to be here.

It’s also a problem for the pub trade. If contact tracers start reporting more and more cases are originating from pubs, the Government will eventually take notice. No one quite knows how they’d respond – and with enough uncertainty at the moment, more won’t help.

If vaccines stopped you from catching Covid and transmiting it, vaccine passports might be something I’d be prepared to tolerate. But as it stands, this has got to be one of the worst ideas that any modern government has ever pushed through…

Are London’s Printworks under threat of closure? Property developers want to stick offices on the site – and refuse to say the club will remain open afterwards

Who in the right mind would want to set up a nightclub in London these days? The authorities give the distinct impression of not wanting you there. The London mayor only takes an interest when there’s votes from young people to be had. And you have Amy Lamé, the Night Czar who is as much of a lame duck as her name implies.

And once you’ve got your venue, you have no end of unscrupulous types who could bring the whole thing crashing down. Including property developers who seem to want to buy the whole of central London and turn it into one enormous office – the increase in the number of people working from home is obviously not something they’ve yet noticed.

Which is why I always found the arrangements of Printworks to be very odd. The land is owned by British Land and they gave events company Broadwick Live permission to run a nightclub there. How long did this permission last? And what happened if a dispute occurred between the two?

Whilst I’m confident solicitors would have resolved these questions beforehand, there was always the possibility British Land might want to do something else with the site. And it turns out they do, as part of the Canada Water Masterplan.

But what will happen to the Printworks if this goes ahead? Their own words on the question are…

“We have explored a range of future uses for The Printworks and as part of this have taken forward a workspace-led design, for which we’re preparing a Reserved Matters Application. Nonetheless we believe that culture will play an important role as part of a new urban centre at Canada Water, and remain in discussions with Broadwick Live as a key collaborator and tenant, following their success in the Printworks over the last five years.”

Nowhere do words to the effect of “Printworks will remain open after the development” appear. Hardly reassuring…

Credit for this story goes to the Architects Journal.

Can you dance without a mask on when ordering a drink at the bar? Just some of the rules in place as Irish nightclubs reopen today – but those of you in Northern Ireland will have to wait another week!

Nightclubs are finally open again as of today in Ireland. For the past three months, a curious anomaly has been in place where if you lived on the island of Ireland and fancied going to a club, it meant a flight across the Irish Sea. They were closed on both sides of the border, with Stormont and Dublin showing little interest in reopening them.

So if you intend to go clubbing tonight in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Limerick or wherever, what rules do you have to follow? Well, for starters, you must be able to prove you’re double jabbed. Quite simply, if you’re not, you won’t be allowed in. I can’t help but suspect this is a policy which will soon ensure Garda Siochana* are busy trying to close down illegal raves, but I digress.

Elsewhere, you’ll need to wear a face mask. Except when drinking. You won’t need one whilst doing that. Or whilst having a dance. Capacity is restricted to 1500 people when standing up, but more if some people are sitting down. Quite how you ensure no more than 1500 people are on their feet at any one time is something the Taoiseach** has yet to explain.

Oh, and bar service is allowed once again. This one doesn’t just apply to nightclubs. However, people will need to put on a mask to go to the bar and order their drink, return to the table wearing the mask and take it off to actually drink the damn thing. And pretty much the only way to avoid having to wear a mask whilst ordering a drink at the bar is to dance whilst in the queue.

Which, by the way, you have to do in a socially distanced manner. Yes, you have to remain two metres apart in a queue for the bar. Which goes down to one meter if you’re wearing a mask, but goes up to two again if you’re dancing which means you won’t be wearing a mask. Because you’re dancing.

And none of these rules apply in Northern Ireland. Because it’s under different rules, where nightclubs remain closed until Halloween – but rest assured some civil servant in Belfast is writing all this stuff down and working out if they can make the Northern Irish rules even more baffling to follow.

After all that, I need to go and have a coffee. Extra shot of Baileys in this one, please!

* The official name for the Irish police. ** Irish term for Prime Minister.

Vaccine passes became law in Wales this week – but controversy over the farcical vote in the Welsh Parliament (where they passed by a single vote) continues to cause an almighty stink

Vaccine passes (as they insist on calling them) came into use in Wales yesterday. If you want to enter a nightclub or a few other specific settings in the country now, you must either prove you’re double jabbed or provide a negative lateral flow test result which is a maximum of 48 hours old. But their introduction has caused controversy, and it’s not just simply because of the original proposals on the table.

Last week, a vote took place in the Welsh Parliament to see whether members would support it. Now, the Welsh Parliament currently operates a half and half system. Half of members are allowed to place their votes in person, and the other half do so remotely. And it’s at this point we centre in on the Member of the Senedd (that’s the Welsh for Parliament, before you ask) for Vale of Clwyd in north Wales – a Tory called Gareth Davies.

At the time of the vote, he was at the Conservative Party conference in Manchester, so took advantage of the system which allowed him to place his vote remotely. Only things didn’t work out. Davies put out a statement on Twitter afterwards explaining what happened from his side…

Since then, Davies hasn’t said anything more about the subject – he isn’t responding to my emails and the Welsh Conservative Party declined to comment when contacted by this blog yesterday. The vote passed by 28 to 27, and he made clear in advance he would be voting against it. So vaccine passes would have been, at the least, delayed if his vote had been placed. But this lack of transparency over what happened last week simply isn’t good enough.

I’d like to see a timetable detailing exactly what happened and when it happened, Details like who Davies spoke to and what he was advised to do should be released. At what point was he told the vote would take place without him, and how did he respond? And just why did he choose to go to Manchester on a week where the crucial vote was going to take place? 

A word of advice, Mr Davies. This refusal to comment any further, especially when his vote could potentially have delayed or even stopped vaccine passes completely, does you no favours. At best, it makes you look like an idiot. At worst, it looks like you’ve been gagged. Start talking, Gareth…

Where’s Boris Johnson when you actually need him? Campaign to reopen London’s Night Tube early has a snag no one’s noticed – and the man they need is off on holiday (his first one since August!)

For many years in London, services on the Tube ended at around 1am each day and reopened about 5.30am. This was to allow maintenance jobs to take place and to avoid creating more noise in an already noisy city. Blame for this lies with the Victorians – how dare they fail to foresee over a century into the future, eh?

During the 90s, all kinds of work was done to modernise the network – thus allowing a limited night time service to open in 2014 on Friday and Saturday nights. The service was suspended during the pandemic, notably because it meant there was pretty much nothing open at night. But calls for it to reopen – England lifted almost all its lockdown restrictions nearly three months ago – are getting louder.

There’s just one major problem. Those who talk about its continued closure being a threat to the safety of women are certainly correct – I don’t dispute this. But the reason the Night Tube hasn’t started again in earnest is simple. Money. Or rather, their lack of it.

Allow me to explain. In June 2021, the Government gave Transport for London – who run the Tube – a bailout worth almost £1.1billion. And this wasn’t their first. In May 2020, they received £1.6billion to stop them from going under. The bailouts came with strict conditions – including finding over £300million of spending cuts.

I can’t imagine the Night Tube is cheap to run. Transport for London remains quite heavily unionised by modern standards and they went on strike in the past when the terms being offered for agreeing to the graveyard shifts weren’t to the union’s liking. So bringing it back is going to cost in extra wages, electricity and all the other expenses which come with running train services. Not cheap.

Anyone wanting to bring back London’s Night Tube might therefore be best speaking not to Sadiq Khan, London’s mayor, but rather Prime Minister Boris Johnson. And unfortunately, he’s away on holiday. Again

Is that what all those plague rave DJs were doing? Belfast Telegraph publishes article which bizarrely promises to tell readers “how to avoid an accidental rave”…

Sometimes, I wake up in the morning and start looking through the news – and I get even more convinced that during the night, the world went just that little bit further into the rabbit hole. This was precisely one of those mornings.

The Belfast Telegraph published an article yesterday trying to keep its readers informed about the Covid restrictions currently in place in Northern Ireland. It all starts innocuously enough by talking about social distancing in restaurants no longer being required in November. So far, nothing out of the ordinary.

But then you remember the headline promises to tell you “how to avoid an accidental rave” – a curious prospect in itself. Is that how the plague rave DJs ended up doing what they were doing – by accident? Sven Väth hasn’t appeared yet and said “I was out in India playing some vinyl by myself and within minutes, thousands of people showed up – I accidentally ended up doing a plague rave!” – so the jury remains out on that one.

It turns out what the Belfast Telegraph is referring to is a rather odd anomaly in the restrictions. Nightclubs will be allowed to open, but having an indoor rave of more than 30 people in your house isn’t permitted. And the definition of an indoor rave is terribly vague.

They define it as an event where “Amplified music is played during the night with or without intermission which is likely to cause serious distress to inhabitants of the locality by reason of its loudness, duration and the time at which it is played”.

This definition seems terribly vague to me. Following this theory, if an 80-year old woman in, for example, Omagh, was to invite 35 friends around for a dinner party and country music was played at a loud enough volume into the evening, the aforementioned 80-year old could be fined under Covid laws if someone were to feign “distress”.

Possible unintended consequence there…

The Six On Saturday column returns next week.

Did someone tell them the furlough scheme has ended? Northern Ireland’s nightclubs can FINALLY reopen from Halloween – over three months after England unlocked the doors…

England reopened their nightclubs on July 19th. Wales reopened theirs on August 7th and Scotland followed on August 9th. Clubs have also opened up in much of Europe, the USA and other countries. High uptake of the Covid vaccination programme is being typically cited as the reason why this is able to happen.

But Northern Ireland’s nightclubs have curiously remained shut – and even last week as the UK-wide furlough scheme came to an end, there was no explanation forthcoming of why they remained closed. Despite my best attempts to find out, no one could quite elaborate on how nightclubs were meant to pay wages with no money coming in and no furlough scheme available.

In life, however, remember that other people can hear you even when they appear not to be listening. Hence why yesterday, the Northern Ireland Executive finally announced that nightclubs can reopen again – but in a particularly weird twist, not until October 31st. Maybe there’s some kind of Halloween joke to be made there…

Asking for proof of double jabbing or a negative lateral flow test is being recommended, but isn’t essential. Which is hardly surprising – Scotland launched a vaccine passport app earlier this week. Initial reports say it doesn’t work.

And the legal threats haven’t gone away either. I approached one of the companies which previously threatened to take the Executive to court over its refusal to open nightclubs – they simply said “We’ll talk to our solicitors again over the next few days to discuss our options”…

Is there anyone who WOULD want the Tories to use their music? Friendly Fires post distinctly unfriendly riposte after Boris Johnson is welcomed on party conference stage to their song “Blue Cassette”…

The Conservative Party is a strange phenomenon. They have been the dominant force in British politics now for around a century. Yet you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who admits to voting for them. Two countries of the UK constantly reject them at elections, one can’t vote for them at all and even in England, they’ve never managed to get over 50% of the vote.

But despite all this, they keep being put into office. And probably the strangest time of year is when this mysterious collective all meet – like they did over the past few days in Manchester. Highlights include the Prime Minister posting a video of him buttering a slice of toast, and Michael Gove saying he might go clubbing – again.

Naturally, there are whole swathes of people who can’t stand them – and that has always included a lot of people in the music business. Which is why when Prime Minister Boris Johnson came out to give a speech yesterday to the song “Blue Cassette” by Friendly Fires, the rather, ahem, blue reaction by the band didn’t come as much of a surprise. They said…

Casting aside the fact Friendly Fires didn’t approve of their use of the song, who exactly was responsible for this choice? The song is about someone finding an old cassette tape in their garden, covered with dirt. What are the Tories trying to tell us?