'Unworkable pile of nonsense' - Pubs react to no jab, no pint idea

Dawn Hopkins, owner and landlady of The Rose in Norwich. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Dawn Hopkins, owner and landlady of the Rose in Norwich. - Credit: Archant

Publicans in Norfolk and Waveney have given their take on vaccine certificates, with one calling the idea "another level of ridiculousness" and others raising concerns over creating a two-tier industry.

Prime minister Boris Johnson has said pub goers could be asked to provide a vaccine certificate before entering and that the decision over whether to introduce a scheme could be up to individual landlords.

But the remarks have been largely criticised in the local pub trade - though some landlords said they would be willing to give it a try.

In a snap survey of 20 pubs across the county, the idea was rejected by 11, who said they would not be prepared to do it. Five publicans said they would be willing to introduce it and four said they didn't know.

The chairman of the Norwich and District Camra, Campaign for Real Ale, Ian Stamp, was particularly against the idea.

Ian Stamo, Norwich & District Camra

Ian Stamp. - Credit: Archant

He said: "It is an unworkable pile of nonsense, absolutely ridiculous. Every publican has worked hard to make pubs safe and just want to be able to open up, so the idea they would voluntarily stop people coming in is just idiotic."

Dawn Hopkins, the Rose, Norwich

Dawn Hopkins. - Credit: Archant

Dawn Hopkins, landlady of the Rose, on Norwich's Queen's Road, and vice-chairwoman of the Campaign for Pubs, agreed.

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"Many of the staff working in pubs themselves won't be vaccinated, it's just another level of ridiculousness," she said. "Can you imagine the aggravation we'd get from being the Covid police?"

Fox and Hounds, Heacham

The Fox and Hounds, Heacham. - Credit: Fox and Hounds

Others said pubs were being penalised.

Mark Bristow, landlord of the Fox and Hounds, in Heacham, said: "Why is it you can go into a store or supermarket that's about as socially distanced as a rugby scrum yet we have to keep our pubs closed?"

However, Shelagh Wells, landlady of The Three Horseshoes, in North Cove, near Beccles, said: "Yes, this will be hard for us to implement but 100,000 people-plus have died in this pandemic and there is always someone worse off than you."

Business owners Simone Hopwood and Leona Gard in Cromer, part of the Wellington freehouse on Garden Street.

Sisters and business owners Simone Hopwood and Leona Gard at Welly's Smokehouse in Cromer, part of the Wellington freehouse on Garden Street. - Credit: Archant

Simone Hopwood, co-owner of The Wellington Pub in Garden Street, Cromer, also said she would be happy to ask customers for proof of vaccination.

"It wouldn't bother me on a personal level, we ask people for ID all the time and young people are used to it."

But others fear that by imposing vaccination as a stipulation for entry, it would create a divisional, 'two-tier' system of pubs.

Climate change could cause a global shortage of beer, according to researchers at the UEA. Picture:

Opinion was mixed on the idea, but the majority said it would not be feasible. - Credit: © ARCHANT NORFOLK PHOTOGRAPHI

Phil Cooper, landlord of The Angel in Loddon, said: "Regarding the vaccination passport, while it may make sense from the perspective of restricting future cases of Covid-19, which we would be totally in support of, from a commercial point of view it will only serve to create a subliminal tier 2 system as we had in December, when your market potential for bookings was so greatly reduced it questions the sanity of opening. 

"The vaccination passport approach can only potentially work when the total country is vaccinated."

John McKiernan, landlord at the St John's Head on North Quay in Great Yarmouth.

John McKiernan, landlord at the St John's Head on North Quay in Great Yarmouth. - Credit: Archant

John McKiernan, who runs the St John's Head on North Quay, Great Yarmouth, said: "I don't see how in somewhere like Great Yarmouth you're going to be able ask, especially if it's busy, 40 to 50 people for their IDs and keep track of it.

"It's going to be a struggle."

Members of the public who we asked for thoughts on Facebook were divided on the issue.

David Jordan said: "If you’re frightened of catching Covid, or anything else for that matter, there is absolutely no compulsion to go to the pub or anywhere else that you don’t feel safe."

Barry Jordan: "What hard working publican can turn away revenue especially when the vaccine doesn’t stop the catching or passing it on?"

Glass of light beer in a pub. Picture: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Vaccine certificates could form part of the country's exit from lockdown and the pandemic. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

The prime minister told the Commons Liaison committee it may be left up to "individual publicans" as to whether they could ask punters for domestic vaccine passports to enter venues. When pressed later, he said it was too early to speculate.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove has been tasked with leading a review into the possible use of coronavirus status certificates as part of the road map for releasing England's lockdown.

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