Anger over lack of clarity on Covid passport checks
The Northern Ireland hospitality industry has hit out at Stormont over a lack of information about Covid passport checks.
From Monday, November 29, venues must ask customers for proof of vaccination or a negative test result but there will be a two-week grace period before those who fail to comply can be fined.
Legislation is yet to be published just three days before the checks begin and while a Department of Health spokesman said it is “currently being drafted” Hospitality Ulster’s chief executive Colin Neill said businesses has a “huge amount of concern” about the situation,
He added: “We are still seeking answers for the industry despite implementation being days away. We are not surprised by this situation, as it happens repeatedly.
“We understand that the technology is ready from Monday, but that the legislation is lagging behind. We need direction. There is a huge amount of concern around this scheme and it will be our industry that will be criticised for not implementing it from early next week.
“We need to know the detail around, for example, if proof of vaccine needs to be shown at point of entry or point of service? We need clarity now, so close to implementation.”
While initial guidance for venues and event organisers has been published online, Mr Neill said many questions remained unanswered.
“Will it apply to all hospitality settings? We are not sure it will. What does that say about licensed premises being singled out.
“We are really concerned about the increased levels of abuse that those working in the sector will be faced with if people turn up without passport information.
“How are businesses expected to prepare, how are staff to be trained and rotas changed?
“The vast majority of hospitality businesses will not have budgeted for this. Are they just expected to absorb the costs? How long will that be expected to last?
“The Executive really needs to bring forward an urgent financial package to be able to support this move.”