Government report finds event vaccine passports would have minimal benefit but significant cost
The Cabinet Office’s Covid-19 task force has reportedly published analysis that suggests the implementation of vaccine passports at mass events would reduce overall community transmission by between just 1% and 5%.
The report found that the introduction of the scheme at mass events, for the proposed five-month “Plan B” period until March 2022, would have such a minimal impact because only 2%-13% of overall community transmission takes place in venues covered by the certification scheme, meaning there would only be a “moderate impact from reduced community transmission.”
The report found that the introduction of vaccine passports would have a “high impact” on the economy and would have wider impacts such as worsening the supply chain crisis.
The internal Treasury impact assessment document, seen by Politco, suggests that moving to Plan B could cause up to £18bn of damage to the UK economy – more than £800m per week.
The document concludes that the introduction of passports is “likely to have a positive impact in reducing transmission, although it is not possible to say accurately by how much.”
Commenting on the report’s findings, Greg Parmley, CEO of LIVE (Live music Industry Venues & Entertainment) an umbrella federation of 13 live music industry associations, said the report confirmed implementing mandatory vaccine passports would be a mistake.
Parmley said: “These passports would cost the live music industry billions of pounds while aspects of the roll out would be impractical and potentially dangerous. “Our industry has been unjustifiably held to a higher standard than any other throughout the pandemic. Now the Government’s own impact assessment makes it clear that far from reducing transmission rates, insisting on mandatory vaccine passports in venues is likely to do the exact opposite.
“Across the country, music venues and events already have tried, tested and workable systems in place to ensure that live events continue to be safe. As one of the hardest hit industries throughout the pandemic the Government should be focused on supporting us to rebuild, not forcing these unworkable conditions upon us.”
Shaun Hinds, chief executive at Manchester Central, added: "We have been listening closely to the media reports concerning Plan B and the proposed introduction of vaccine passports for the events industry this winter. I think everyone would agree that we must all do what we can to mitigate any spread of infection. At Manchester Central we have been and will continue to follow the guidance given so that we can keep our staff and visitors safe.
"However, there are still multiple questions surrounding the implementation of mandatory vaccine passports, including the removal of covid certification (vaccine passport or negative Covid test) which is surely the more inclusive and accessible option. These are the types of questions which must be answered urgently in order for us, and others in the events industry, to adequately prepare for any change in process, especially one this large."
Hinds continued: "The mandate of vaccine passports for each individual is not a move that can be easily implemented at short notice. Our clients need time to communicate the requirements to their delegates and it will also require a significant increase in staffing and security, which is an area the events industry is already massively struggling with.
"We have successfully hosted a number of large events at Manchester Central since our reopening in July, and confidence in the sector is growing, not only for venues and organisers, but for businesses and event attendees who are once again stepping out to attend conferences, gigs and shows.
"The ongoing speculation and uncertainty about what will be happening in the weeks and months to come has started to knock this confidence. Without urgent clarity over the use of passports and how they will work for the everyday visitor, I have no doubt that bookings and the financial viability for the events sector over the key Christmas period will once again suffer."