Nightclub Boss Questions PM’s Leadership Over Vaccine Passports

By PA
July 21, 2021 Updated: July 21, 2021

A nightclub boss has questioned Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s leadership over plans to enforce COVID-19 vaccine passports on club doors from September.

Peter Marks, chief executive of Rekom UK, which owns 42 nightclubs including chains Pryzm, Eden, and Fiction, said he felt “utter disbelief” after hearing Johnson’s plans for clubs later this year.

During a press conference on Monday, the day clubs reopened for the first time in 16 months, Johnson said proof of a negative test from 18-year-olds and over would no longer be considered sufficient enough for entry for nightclubs from September.

Marks said while he understood the difficulties faced by the Government due to their need to “sail between all the icebergs of different factions” he disagreed with the latest plans.

He added that he feels clubs have been “clobbered” because Johnson “daren’t touch the pubs” as he understands “how unpopular that would be” with the public.

He told the PA news agency: “What we’ve got here is a Government, in particular a prime minister, who is driven more by public opinion and opinion polls than I think is healthy.

“Sometimes you’ve got to show leadership and I don’t think this man has that. I question his judgment. I think he’s really good at lifting the spirits up, and I’m certainly not anti-Boris per se, but I think this been a terrible misjudgment on his behalf.”

Marks said he will be “making the case” to the Government that the nightclub industry should not be treated separately from the rest of the society and he wants to work with it to look at how clubs can operate in a “risk-assessed and balanced way.”

“To highlight the nightclub industry has no basis other than populist messaging and I completely disagree with it,” he said.

“To just say, bang, [and introduce vaccine passports], in the vain hope that nightclubs are so popular in the under 30s that it’s going to make everyone shrug their shoulders and go and get a passport, is delusional.

“We will not be accepting passports as a requirement of entry until we are directed to do so because it’s a suicide note for us.

“If it becomes enforced then I’m not going to break the law. I would never do that. But the reality is that I will keep banging the drum until common sense prevails but that’s because this is populist claptrap.”

A Government spokesman said: “This is about protecting people in those settings where the virus is most likely to spread, and vaccines are the best possible way to do this.

“The change will not come into effect until the end of September, by which point everyone aged 18 and over will have had the chance to get fully vaccinated. We are continuing to urge young people to come forward for their jabs.

“NHS COVID Pass is designed to be simple and easy to use and we have announced this change over two months in advance, to give venues notice to prepare.”

By Isobel Frodsham