Should Attending Gigs Require A Vaccine Passport?

Emily Campbell

COVID-19 has disrupted all our lives over the last 18 months but now it seems as though life is beginning to return to some normality, despite the virus still lurking in the background. Most ‘normal’ activities are now beginning to be resumed in some capacity with added caution. However, they all come with the question of how to create a safe environment for those attending. Emily Campbell questions whether gigs should require vaccine passports to attend.

While many leisure activities such as restaurants were given the go ahead to reopen even for a period in the summer of 2020, forms of entertainment such as theatres, gigs and clubs have only ever been able to reopen this summer. Furthermore, gigs were only able to operate properly after 19th July after the government did some pilot concerts from the 2nd June. This has had a detrimental effect on the lives of so many involved in the entertainment industry, and many have been left out of work.

People have missed the buzz and the atmosphere that live events bring and finally they are getting the chance to experience this again; but at what cost?

New methods of creating revenue have had to be explored such as virtual concerts which have unfortunately never been met with the same reception as live events. Gigs bring a large revenue for a multitude of industries from sound and lighting, events management, merchandise, venues and of course the artist and their team. People have missed the buzz and the atmosphere that live events bring and finally they are getting the chance to experience this again; but at what cost?

Over the past few weeks there has been a surge of tour ticket releases from big artists for next year such as Ed Sheeran, Coldplay, Sam Fender, Billie Eilish, Dua Lipa, and Elton John, as well as smaller artists releasing smaller tours and single concert dates. This resurgence in the gig industry is a massive positive for artists and gig-goers alike but it poses a question of what safety measures are going to be put in place so they can be successful. COVID-19 could otherwise shorten music tours and halt the reopening of venues for people to come and listen and experience their favourite songs in solidarity with other fans.

Therefore, vaccine passports could be a responsible way to make sure people have some sort of proof they are free of COVID-19. This could help enable the planned concert dates to all be carried out without a sudden spread within the team putting on the gigs and across the country with people coming from near and far to go to a gig. This has already been met with success in other entertainment industries like theatres who have taken this route and in addition have also recommended that a mask is worn because of being sat close to others.

Some gig-goers may be irritated that their lives should still be monitored and their entrance to a concert determined by whether they’ve had a vaccine. Clubs don’t require a passport of any kind to enter, and some may argue this is needed more than a gig. In addition, some venues for smaller gigs are in nightclubs so why should clubs not have a vaccine passport, but gigs are required to? There is also the issue of checking a vaccine passport on top of a ticket check which could cause delays on entering a venue. A more effective method could be employed such as an online registration system for example, but this would take time and money to develop.

Just because someone has a vaccine passport doesn’t necessarily mean they cannot carry and pass on the virus, but it does lower the chances

Therefore, some may pose the problem of the practicalities of it, a theatre is a much smaller venue than a concert venue like Wembley Stadium which has thousands attending. It also comes down to whether a vaccine passport is ethically right. Some people are unable to have the vaccine as a result of medical reasons so they would be excluded from attending. This doesn’t seem fair and having a vaccine is encouraged but cannot not be forced upon someone. However, would people who are pro-vaccine passports suggest that this is simply a consequence for people that are not willing to have the vaccine? Lastly, just because someone has a vaccine passport doesn’t necessarily mean they cannot carry and pass on the virus, but it does lower the chances.

The issue of a vaccine passport is not a simple one; it is a logistical and ethical issue. Both sides of the argument are valid, but concerts are not an essential event for people to attend. For the sake of the amount of people that could possibly die as a result of the increase in the spread of COVID-19 caused by gigs it does seem that a system should be developed to prevent Covid-19 entering the venue. This would also help to ensure gigs aren’t further disrupted by COVID-19. Wales are introducing a COVID pass for nightclubs, gigs and other large events which needs either proof of a vaccine or a negative test within the past 48 hours, and this is something which could be done in England. A COVID pass rather than a vaccine passport seems to be a sensible decision as it is inclusive, and everyone can test if they haven’t had the vaccines.

Emily Campbell

Featured image courtesy of Phin Hall via Flickr. Image license found here. No changes made to this image.

In-article images courtesy of @simplepolitics via instagram.com. No changes made to these images. 

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