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Vaccine passports – the way back to staging live events?

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Could vaccine passports be the quickest and safest way to enable live events to re-open? Liz Taylor, corporate event planner and MD of the Taylor Lynn Corporation, reflects on the practicalities and moral dilemmas a vaccine passport scheme would pose for event professionals.

Liz Taylor on Red Piano

Ordinarily, I would throw my full weight behind anything that would allow the events industry to open up again and let us get back to doing what we love.

And as the pandemic continues, with new strains emerging, I can see that some companies and private clients may look to a vaccine passport for reassurance of safety. And some planners, as a route to reopen their decimated businesses.

However, I do have both moral and logistical doubts over the idea of immunity passports.

In terms of large-scale events, it would put pressure on the security and event management team to identify anyone who doesn’t have an immunity passport. And if we do, what do we do with them? If entry is to be refused for those who don’t have immunity, communication would have to be very clear about the fact that a passport is a prerequisite to entering the event.

Risk factors

Plus, there’s the issue of what would happen if somebody did slip through the net. What would happen if somebody were to contract Covid-19 at an event – and where would the blame lie? Would there be a legal implication? We would have to be extremely hot on collecting and storing personal data record for years to come.

The differing rates of vaccinations amongst age groups also poses a problem. For example, if we were organising a work recognition event, ahead of the time that all UK adults have been vaccinated, would there be different rules for different age groups? Some able to mix, others segregated? Social distancing and other virus control rules would surely still have to apply across the entire event. And many of our events include delegates from all levels of the company – would this continue?

I am sure some businesses will consider smaller, ‘less risky’ events for management. But this defeats the morale and team building elements of these events, surely?

International implications

There would also be an implication for the staff we are able to hire. In our industry we rely heavily on freelance workers, many of those travelling from abroad. Undoubtedly, those who have been vaccinated will be a more employable prospect than those who have not.

For an international event, with vaccination programmes happening at differing rates, there will also be a knock-on effect. Many of the companies I work with have offices across the globe. Do they split their team? Some allowed to attend, some not? Some attending virtually, while others enjoy the experience of a live event?

And what about performing artists – I’m lucky to be able to call upon hugely talented individuals from all over the world, who travel many miles to delight and entertain our audiences. Yet, if they are from a country that has been unable to vaccinate at the rate the UK has, they could be unable to work here.

Logistics aside, the biggest question for me is whether asking a person’s Covid-19 status is an infringement on their human rights.

The freedom to choose our lifestyle, including whether or not we want to be vaccinated, should surely be just that – a choice. Restricting freedoms such as whether a person can attend a concert or watch a football match based on their vaccination status could be a dangerous route to a more dystopian and discriminatory society.

M&IT Expert – Liz Taylor