Nightclubs, concerts, and sports fixtures will be required to check patrons Covid status from Wednesday
Credit: IULIAN TUCA SIMINICIUC/Pixabay
Venues must update the app used to verify customers’ vaccination documentation before new restrictions come into force across England this week.
From 6am on Wednesday, venues in scope of the new measures – including nightclubs, concerts and sports events – must ensure all attendees are fully vaccinated or can provide evidence of a recent negative coronavirus test.
The primary means through which such checks will take place is via the NHS Covid Pass. The digital document – which can be displayed by logging onto the NHS app, where it can also be downloaded for offline display or printing – contains a secure QR code that confirms the user’s status, as well as verifying the NHS as the issuer of the document.
To scan these codes, businesses can download the complementary NHS Covid Pass Verifier App. The software, which can be used on a standard smartphone, will allow staff to automatically verify the validity of a user’s pass.
Until now, citizens have been able to obtain a pass if they are fully vaccinated, have tested negative for coronavirus in the preceding 48 hours, or have tested positive in the previous 180 days – thereby achieving natural immunity.
But, once the restrictions coming into force on Wednesday, businesses are instructed that “evidence of natural immunity must not be accepted as an alternative to proof of vaccination or testing”.
The Covid Pass system – including both the NHS app and the verifier app for businesses – have been updated accordingly. Businesses that are charged with enforcing the restrictions have been instructed to make sure all devices used to scan customers’ passes are urgently updated and equipped with the latest version of the verification software.
Going forward, firms that have not already done so should turn on automatic updates to ensure that their systems keep pace with any changes in government policy, and resultant amendments to the NHS software.
“From Wednesday 15 December, businesses in England and Wales using the NHS Covid Pass Verifier App to digitally verify an NHS Covid Pass must update to the latest version before next use,” according to advice issued on the NHS website. “The Verifier app should be updated via the Apple or Google app stores. This update will ensure that the Verifier app reflects the latest government policy which comes into force at 6am on 15 December.”
It added: “For those who have ‘automatic updates’ enabled on their mobile devices, the Verifier app will automatically update. For those who do not have ‘automatic update’ enabled, you will need to manually ‘update’ the Verifier app on each device used by your business. Please ensure that ‘automatic updates’ is enabled and your mobile devices are connected periodically to the internet to allow for regular software updates to the NHS Covid Pass Verifier app.”
The requirement for attendees to provide vaccine certification applies to venues hosting indoor and outdoor events with more than 500 and 4,000 unseated attendees, respectively, or any event with over 10,000 people present. The rules also cover “nightclubs, dance halls, discotheques and other late-night dance venues” that open after 1am, serve alcohol, and provide customers with music and a space for dancing.
Venues and events are encouraged to use the Verifier app but are advised that, “where this is not possible”, staff can visually inspect customers’ passes.
Guidance on GOV.UK added: “If you’re an event organiser, you might want to consider the following options to help safely manage your event and queues when checking the NHS Covid Pass at entry points: setting up queueing systems and staggering arrival and departure times; having staff check the NHS COVID Pass away from entry points, where possible… [and]; clearly communicating requirements ahead of arrival, and displaying signage which clearly explains what is expected from attendees to venues and events.”