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Vaccine passports are not a major problem, suggests Salvation and Vudu

Nouse spoke to two leading nightclubs in York about waiting times, drinks prices and vaccine certificates

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With the government announcing on ‘Freedom Day’ their plans for vaccine passports to be compulsory for access into nightclubs from late September, Nouse interviewed Russ Brown, spokesman for Salvation, and Maria Pavlou, owner of Vudu, to find out how this latest policy change could affect students and the industry.

From late September, entering clubs will require more than a driving licence or regular passport and Nouse asked Brown and Pavlou whether vaccine passports would necessitate the hiring of more bouncers or create new operational problems.

Brown expressed his confidence in vaccine passports not causing severe problems for the management of Salvation’s club nights, although he did say that “operationally it may cause some issues, but we’ll work with what we have and find solutions”. Likewise, Pavlou said that she didn’t foresee vaccine passports harming Vudu’s business at “any level” and instead suggested that they may be more of a “blessing” than a “curse”, if “by following guidelines” “another lockdown is avoided”.

The phasing in of vaccine passports will also make it harder for underage teenagers to enter nightclubs with fake IDs, as each vaccinated individual will have access to their passport by logging onto the NHS app, at which point they will be presented with a scannable barcode. There is the option to receive a print copy of your vaccine passport, although it is likely that most vaccinated adults will download the app. Both clubs were keen to reiterate their commitment to remaining “constantly vigilant” and being ready to “confiscate all fake IDs”.

With Salvation and Vudu weathering three lockdowns, Nouse asked if students would face a more costly clubbing experience as a consequence of their months without business. Brown has reassured us that Salvation’s drinks prices have been kept “more or less” at “1990s prices” and he evidenced opening week tickets selling out in “record time” as proof of this. In Vudu, Pavlou told us that ‘small increases in prices” have been inescapable, as for the entire hospitality sector “all prices of spirits have increased dramatically in the last year”. However, interestingly Pavlou said that these increases were unrelated to the experience of “long closures”.

For many students, September is the first time they will be able to enjoy clubbing in York and with the limited number of nightclubs in the city, it is largely expected that waiting times are going to be longer than those prior to the pandemic. However, contrary to expectations, Brown claims that Salvation’s waiting times will not  increase, but that the club’s greatest challenge will remain its “one in one out” policy for admittance.

The nightclub industry throughout the UK has experienced a testing and uncertain climate. Nouse therefore asked Brown and Pavlou how they rated the level of government support for their respective nightclubs during the pandemic. Both Brown and Pavlou were very positive about the government’s assistance, with Brown describing the government’s support as “outstanding” and Pavlou praising the government for “keeping businesses afloat”. Brown’s only criticism was the time Salvation had to wait to receive support, as he said that “we had to go looking for it”.

Despite Boris Johnson receiving heavy criticism for the gradual easing of restrictions, Pavlou said that the decision to open up the economy in stages had allowed her to open both of her York venues, namely Vudu Lounge and Bobo Lobo. Pavlou’s highest praise went to the response of Vudu’s customers, as she revealed that “everyone has been very patient".

The lockdowns also provided nightclub owners with an ideal window of time to refurbish and renovate their clubs, and this is exactly what Salvation have done. Brown told us that Salvation took advantage of the extended period of closure to “upgrade the club”, investing in “new systems and technology to improve things like speed of service and the customer experience”.

When asked what their thoughts were on the prospects for York’s clubbing industry, both Pavlou and Brown were extremely optimistic, and Brown asserted that Salvation was “as passionate about what we do now as we were the day we first opened”.

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