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Are Covid Certificates the answer?
A new initiative – the COVID status certificate or ‘vaccine passport’ – has been proposed as the latest tool aimed at enabling greater access to venues and events. Could they work in the museum setting?
At his Monday press conference Boris Johnson indicated growing government focus on the development of COVID status certificates, or ‘vaccine passports’, as an enabler to access a range of settings. Though detailed information on how the scheme would work is yet to be made available, press reports suggest that a certificate might be issued either on proof of vaccination, a recent negative test, or one showing antibodies within the last six months.
It has also been suggested that the use of such certificates could lead eventually to existing social distancing restrictions being reduced, or even lifted entirely. To date the proposals have however met with scepticism, with building opposition from hospitality groups as well as from MPs across the House.
Whilst the reality of the pandemic and the grief and damage it has caused cannot be overstated, for many in the museum sector, including AIM, there are concerns that the proposals could have a range of negative impacts. At best they could narrow access, acting as a barrier at a time when museums are looking to sustain, rebuild and broaden their audience. It also seems inequitable to implement such a system ahead of everyone having had the chance to receive a vaccination. And from a practical perspective, consideration would need to be given as to how the passport could work alongside other measures, such as test and trace – so that organisations – and in particular stretched FOH teams already focused on maintaining existing social distancing measures – are not overwhelmed, and that visitors feel measures are there to keep them safe, not inhibit them from visiting.
Chief Executive, Black Country Living Museum and AIM Chair, Andrew Lovett
“In Step 3 of the Government’s four-phase reopening plan for England, museums can welcome visitors again from 17 May, and at the Black Country Living Museum we are looking forward to that happening.
I want the Museum to provide a safe, equitable visit for everyone, with plenty of fresh air, in a wonderful place that we can all enjoy. I have lost close family members to COVID-19 and have enormous sympathy for people that have suffered the pain which this pandemic has wrought.
However, on balance, I believe that so-called ‘vaccine passports’ to permit a museum visit are more of a barrier to that and opening up the economy, than an acceptable passage to freedoms.”
AIM will be closely following the findings of the recently announced event piloting activity which should offer a more detailed overview of the potential impact of the proposals. Do share your thoughts on firstname.lastname@example.org