Executive ‘passing buck’ on Covid passports

A Belfast nightclub manager has expressed concerns about having to police Covid entry checks in the absence of a mandatory passport system.

Wednesday, 27th October 2021, 8:15 am

Sean Duffy, general manager of Love & Death in the city centre, said he feels Stormont is “passing the buck” on to the nightclub sector ahead of the planned reopening on October 31.

The Executive has advised venues to introduce their own Covid entry checks but has stopped short of bringing in a mandatory system similar to the one operating in the Irish Republic.

The issue has divided the administration, with the SDLP and Alliance Party calling for legally enforceable Covid passports for nightlife venues.

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Sean Duffy, managing director of Love and Death nightclub in Belfast, the nightclub manager has expressed concerns about having to police Covid entry checks in the absence of a mandatory passport system. Picture date: Monday October 25 2021.

Work is continuing on developing an official certification system for Northern Ireland but DUP First Minister Paul Givan and Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill have insisted they do not want to compel the sector to enforce mandatory checks at this point, preferring a “partnership approach”.

Meanwhile, the British Medical Association has questioned whether the reopening of nightclubs should even go ahead as scheduled, given the continuing high rates of Covid-19 transmission in the community and the mounting pressures on the health service.

Mr Duffy said his venue has yet to make a decision on whether to make proof of vaccination or Covid status a requirement of entry from Sunday.

“I think if we do decide to it’s going be very tough to police,” he told the PA news agency.

“Do our security staff do it, do I do it, do I get a medical professional in to do it, who does it? Are the guys up on the hill going to come down and show us how to do it?”

Mr Duffy said he has concerns about the concept of customers having to prove vaccination status on entry, but added that if such a system is to operate it should be a “legal requirement”.

“It feels a little bit of passing the buck almost,” he said of the Executive’s approach.

“I was in Dublin a few weeks ago and Covid passports or certification scans down there work very, very well and are very easy – very, very quick to get in and out.”

He said an unregulated system will be open to abuse.

“It’s just going to cause a bottleneck, it’s going to cause disruption.”

Mr Duffy added: “If someone comes in without a mask and says ‘Sorry, I’m exempt from it’, how do I challenge them? Legally, I can’t.

“So how do we do the same with Covid tests?”