Comedy club cancels pilot event over Covid-19 vaccine passport

Comedy club axes pilot event after anti-vaccine passport trolls bombard venue with ‘4,000 hate messages’ despite trial not using jab certificates

  • The Hot Water Comedy Club in Liverpool said it was subjected to hate campaign
  • It came after reports suggested it was working with DCMS on vaccine passports
  • Co-owner said he tried to contact DCMS on if vaccine passports will be trialled
  • The club has now cancelled its event – which was due to be the first to be trialled

A comedy club has axed its pilot event after anti-vaccine passport trolls bombarded the venue with ‘4,000 hate messages’ despite the trial not using jab certificates.

The Hot Water Comedy Club in Liverpool said it was subjected to a ‘hate campaign’ online after reports suggested it was working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to trial Covid-status certification.

Club co-owner Binty Blair said he tried to contact DCMS to clarify whether Covid-19 vaccine passports will be trialled in the pilot event, but to no avail.

Thousands took to Twitter to blast the club for its involvement, with some leaving excoriating reviews on Google.

The club has now cancelled its event – due to be the first to be trialled – on April 16 at the M&S Bank Arena, which would have had an audience of 300 people.

Mr Blair said: ‘The reason for us backing out is the Government wasn’t clear about the Covid passports. The problem is we don’t know what we signed up for.’

On Tuesday, the Government confirmed there will be no requirement for participants in the initial pilot events to have received a vaccination in venues like a comedy club.

DCMS said over the weekend a series of trial events are planned for the coming months as officials look to find a way for venues to reopen without social distancing.

It said Covid-status certification will also be trialled as part of the programme, while detailing a number of events on an initial list of pilots, including Hot Water Comedy Club.

Others include an FA Cup semi-final and the final in front of 21,000 fans at Wembley and three 10km outdoor runs for 3,000 athletes and up to 3,000 spectators.

Officials were also in talks with the Brit Awards about allowing thousands to watch the event, hosted by comedian Jack Whitehall, in London’s O2 Arena on May 11.

The Hot Water Comedy Club in Liverpool said it was subjected to a ‘hate campaign’ online after reports suggested it was working with the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) to trial Covid-status certification (file photo)

Club co-owner Binty Blair said he has tried to contact DCMS to clarify whether Covid-19 vaccine passports will be trialled in the pilot event, but to no avail (file photo) 

 

Mr Blair said he had agreed to take part in the pilot in March but only learned of the Government’s plans to trial Covid-19 vaccine passports two days ago.

He said four acts have lost £300 each as a result of the cancelled event.

Speaking on the online abuse, he said: ‘Most of them have been mental. Some have accused us of being backhanders.

‘I’m not really fussed about the backlash from keyboard warriors but some have emailed us with genuine concerns.’

He said the club has been ‘significantly damaged’ after receiving more than 4,000 angry messages.

One, from Gina Rinaldi, said: ‘After hearing that the Hot Water Comedy Club are trialling vaccine passports I will never step foot in here again and will ensure the message is spread as far as possible.

‘Reducing people to a two-tier health system and asking for medical information to be provided to enter establishments is against civil liberties and dangerous.

‘I thought people in Liverpool had more sense than to go along with this draconian regime. You should be protecting people’s rights not helping to give them away.’

Another, Ken Fisher, put: ‘Dishonest and untrustworthy establishment. Will never see another penny of my money.’

And one more wrote in a Google review: ‘Disgusting that you are participating in the vaccine passport trial! Selling us down the river!’ 

A Twitter account wrote: ‘I will be issuing proceedings against any venue that is in breach of the DPA and GDPR by taking part in these trials.

‘Cease-and-desist already sent to Hot Water Comedy club, Letter Before Claim next week.’

And another said: ‘A convicted, time served murderer or maybe a paedo or rapist has his #COVID19 test.

‘He can then attend the Liverpool Hot Water Comedy Club. I can’t because I refuse to have the vaccine.’

They added: ‘Medical Apartheid at its worst. Picket this venue & any other complicit venue.’

Andy Dean wrote on Facebook: ‘Do you really think you should be participating in the Tory governments vaccine passport scheme?

‘Something completely unethical and socially diverse? it leaves a bad taste upon yourselves and our city.’

Matthew Chell put: ‘Sell outs. Shame on you. Helping the government walk us all into a digital prison.’

And Sara O’Donnell added: ‘Really disappointed that you are taking part in that. You will be paving the way for the scheme to be extended.’

The other events due to hold the trials have also been trolled online over the use of vaccine passports.

Some slammed the Brit Awards: ‘Now I know they re trialling vaccine passports on the show I couldn’t care less who is nominated. Out dated show.

‘I couldn’t care less about your show anymore. You have sold out with vaccine passports. Pathetic.’

Another wrote: ‘Looks ”vaccine passports” will become a thing then. Brit awards to be used as a trial!’

They added: ‘FFS we’re f**ked when this all comes into everyday life. Segregation begins.’

And others took on the FA, with one person writing: ‘We need to rise up and remind the government that we are not having vaccine passports for anything. He cannot bribe us with the FA Cup final or a foreign holiday.’

Another put: ‘Ask yourself why the government chose the FA Cup and the darts to test vaccine passports.

‘They know they have middle class curtain twitchers in fear. Now they want to seat their control over the working class.’

And one added: ‘The FA Cup Final must be boycotted and attended heavily by protestors outside. I cannot stress this enough.

‘This is absolutely critical to stop vaccine passports becoming a dystopian reality. Nip this Orwellian nightmare in the bud.’

It comes after Liverpool City Council said on Sunday events taking place in the city to trial how venues will operate safely will not involve vaccine passports.

The council said the Events Research Programme (ERP) will explore how different approaches to social distancing, ventilation and test-on-entry protocols, including the use of lateral flow tests, could be used ahead of Step 4 of the road map out of lockdown in June.

A Government spokesman said: ‘We strongly condemn the online abuse that Hot Water Comedy Club has received.

‘Our initial pilot events will be based on proof of a negative test result and there will be no requirement for participants to have received a vaccination in venues like a comedy club.

‘Our ambition is to help the British public get back to the mass events they enjoy safely – such as going to sport, live music and cultural events – in a way that ensures the risk of transmission is sufficiently low while maintaining commercial viability.’

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