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Northern Ireland pubs will have right to refuse customers who haven't had Covid jab

Hospitality chief says laws already exist as snap poll shows support for Covid passports

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The Garrick pub and restaurant in Belfast City Centre.  Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

The Garrick pub and restaurant in Belfast City Centre. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Decision: Colin Neill says such a policy would need to be applied diligently

Decision: Colin Neill says such a policy would need to be applied diligently

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The Garrick pub and restaurant in Belfast City Centre. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

Pub owners here would have the right to refuse entry to customers if they imposed a rule to admit only those who have been vaccinated against Covid, a hospitality chief has revealed.

Colin Neill, head of Hospitality Ulster, said licensed premises have a statutory right of refusal under current law, which could be used to apply such a requirement.

His comments come as the first vaccines to be administered in Northern Ireland will take place on Tuesday - dubbed 'V' Day by Health Secretary Matt Hancock.

Care home residents, those over 80 and older and health and social care workers who are at higher risk have been given priority.

The arrival of the Pfizer/BioNTech jabs comes as a snap poll commissioned by the Belfast Telegraph suggests that 60% of people here are in favour of the introduction of so-called Covid 'immunity passports'.

Thirty percent of respondents said they were against the measure, while 10% stated that they were not sure.

Last week, the Government insisted that so-called "immunity passports" will not be issued in the UK, with Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove insisting it would not be made a requirement for people to visit the pub.

Mr Gove's position appears to be at odds with comments made by the Government's vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi, who suggested that the hospitality industry could refuse entry to those who haven't had a Covid-19 vaccine.

Mr Neill confirmed it is within the sector's remit to impose such a rule, telling the Belfast Telegraph it would be up to each individual pub and bar owner to make the decision themselves.

"Individual licensed premises have a statutory right of refusal in law," he said.

"Therefore it would be down to individual premises to decide if this is something they would introduce in their door policy."

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Decision: Colin Neill says such a policy would need to be applied diligently

Decision: Colin Neill says such a policy would need to be applied diligently

Decision: Colin Neill says such a policy would need to be applied diligently

Mr Neill said it is "hard to say" if the prospect of a Covid passport rule would be popular with the hospitality sector in Northern Ireland, adding it will likely depend on which parts of the sector will be allowed to reopen and when.

He added that should licensed premises choose to implement such a door policy, it would have to be applied diligently.

"If introduced they would have to apply this rule to everyone," the chief executive said.

On Monday a further nine deaths and 397 new cases of coronavirus were recorded by the Department of Health, bringing the toll of Covid-related deaths to 1,059.

The department also reported on Monday that there were 386 Covid patients in hospital, along with 29 in intensive care units, 21 of whom require ventilation, while hospital occupancy was sitting at 99%.

Meanwhile, our new survey suggests people here are in favour of receiving the new Covid-19 vaccine.

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The snapshot survey was conducted by RAM UK, an independent research company, which sent the survey out online to all members of the Belfast Telegraph and Sunday Life reader and user panels.

The poll, which received 549 responses from panellists, was also shared on social media in order for those outside these panels to share their views.

Its findings indicate that young people are more likely to be in favour of the vaccine than older people, although most age groups indicated they were in favour of receiving the jab.

An average of 66% of young people said they were in favour, along with 65% of people over 65. That compares to an average of 63% in middle age groups.

Views, however, were mixed on whether the production of a vaccine has been rushed, with 41% of the opinion it had been, while 44% said it had not been rushed.

For those between the ages of 55 and 64, almost half (49%) said they felt that it had been rushed.

For those people who feel the vaccine has been rushed, there appears to be a reluctance to agree to actually taking the vaccine, with only 29% saying they would be willing to take it and 32% unsure.

Of those who feel it has been rushed, there was uncertainty as to whether the vaccine is the only way out of the pandemic - with 46% saying it is, and 16% still uncertain.

That's compared to an average of 65% who believe the coronavirus vaccine provides the way out of the pandemic.

On Monday it emerged that the Government expects "the majority" of vulnerable people to be vaccinated in January and February 2021.

Downing Street would not confirm whether it is expecting four million doses of the Pfizer vaccine to arrive in the UK by the end of the year.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister on Monday said that vaccine "delivery depends on the manufacturing process" this month.

Belfast Telegraph


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