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Uncertainty reigns supreme over PM’s vaccine passports plan

Cast your mind back to Monday 19 July, the day when legal restrictions in England were finally lifted.

You will no doubt remember that the prime minister chose to temper the joy event planners were feeling at the end of lockdown by tossing out a warning about the imminent introduction of vaccine passports.

“I can serve notice now that by the end of September when all over 18s will have had their chance to be double jabbed, we’re planning to make full vaccination the condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather,” he declared. “Proof of a negative test will no longer be enough.”

More than a month on, and only a matter of weeks before venues and planners can expect to implement the new rules, we still have no confirmation of the plans. The ominously vague reference to “other venues” looms threateningly in the background.

Last week, a letter written on behalf of health secretary Sajid Javid was leaked to the Telegraph that stated “no final policy decision has yet been taken” on the issue.

Seasoned watchers of this government are used to this kind of thing. Running policy announcements up the flagpole and then seeing how they land with the general public before making a decision has become the norm.

In fact, the general consensus around Johnson’s comments in July is that they were intended to encourage young people to get a vaccine. By telling people that they need the jab to go clubbing, the government was hoping to see a surge in the take-up rate among teenagers and people in their 20s, which they would then use to inform any future plans.

If this is the case, then most corporate event planners don’t have anything to worry about, right? Well, not so fast.

Speaking to the Guardian, Julian Knight, chair of the digital, culture, media and sport select committee, said he wasn’t aware of any change to the government’s plans, advising venues to get ready.

He said: “I think in these circumstances, it’s best for venues to prepare for their introduction as the costs of not doing so could be terminal.”

In other words, it’s clear as mud. As has been the case for so long when it comes to event planners and government policy, uncertainty reigns supreme.

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