As pressure mounts on the PM to make a final call on the controversial tickets, 67% of hospitality leaders already believe COVID passports to be ‘unworkable’, according to the Lumina Intelligence Hospitality Leaders Poll, conducted in partnership with MCA News, Big Hospitality and the Morning Advertiser. With only 7% actively embracing the concept for pubs, it highlights a possible disconnect between a number of Westminster MPs and the industry leaders trying to recover the sector after a challenging 13 months.
The survey also showed that 82% of hospitality leaders were already struggling with the updated guidance on NHS Test and Trace, with all guests in a party being required to sign in, rather than just one.
Whilst the passport appears as an avenue for the economy to open, the uneven distribution of vaccines across age demographics risks the passports discriminating against certain cohorts – namely those under 35. In recent months this group has made up 37% of the eating out market per adult head and accounted for approximately 43% of the total adult spend (Lumina Intelligence Eating and Drinking Out Panel, 20 w/e 21/03/21). For restaurants and retail, this cohort in fact representing 50% and 47% of their consumer bases respectively. As such, the measures being proposed risks losing a chunk of these consumers – and the spend of the family members they bring in tow.
The businesses most at risk of being affected by the proposed legislation are the low-cost venues such as Nandos and Wagamamas, which normally require high footfall to order to operate profitably in areas commanding high rents. In Spring/Summer 2020 low-cost restaurants accounted for 39% of restaurant chains, according to the Lumina Intelligence Menu & Food Trends report 2020.
Despite the negative-outlook hospitality leaders are hopeful for the future. Net confidence in the future of their business still polls at above 71% with hospitality bosses. Additionally, whilst the legislation appears to be a move to nudge a vaccine hesitant population towards vaccination, polling in March from the ONS suggests 95% of UK adults have either already had the jab, or are willing to.
Trials for the passport start April 15th for mass events. The idealised format of the passport being an app, with a paper equivalent for those unable/unwilling to use the digital version.