Published: 06:00, 08 April 2021
| Updated: 16:09, 08 April 2021
A Kent music venue boss has reached out to his regulars to find out their views on the government's proposed vaccine passports scheme - and fears he could be waving goodbye to a third of them if the proposal goes ahead.
Andre Dack, who runs the Ramsgate Music Hall, has built a loyal following of local gig-goers since taking over the venue in 2018.
Prior to the pandemic, the space hosted loved acts from all over the world such as math-rockers Tera Melos and California's Xiu Xiu.
But since the first lockdown Andre has been unable to host bands and an audience in the usual capacity - save for Dutch band Pib Blom performing in September to a socially-distanced crowd of 12.
Following the news that Covid passports could be implemented to bring the country further out of lockdown, the venue owner decided to ask his audience how they would feel about having to show one to be admitted into a gig.
Andre said: "Looking at the polls it's about 65% of people saying if gigs will return then they're happy to accept that Covid certificates are the way it's going to happen.
"65% of people is obviously is the majority, but that's still 35% who are not comfortable with it, and 35% is quite a big portion of our audience.
"It's not something that sits very comfortably with me, the fact that we're potentially letting down 35% of our audience."
The venue has a 130-person capacity, meaning around 45 people - or a third of a sold-out audience - would either not attend out of choice or be unable to if they have not had the vaccine.
The venue boss said: "To be clear I am not against vaccinations - my mum has been vaccinated already, as soon as I have the opportunity to be vaccinated I will be.
"I'm just keen to keep a really calm dialogue about it, instead of potentially discriminating against anyone who doesn't feel the same, I don't want to do that.
"As I've said many times before Ramsgate Music hall is a venue for everyone and always will be, so I don't feel comfortable about potentially turning way 35% of our regular audience...it's just not right to me."
The controversy boiled over earlier this week after a comedy club pulled out of a trial to test how venues can operate safely, after the government failed to clarify whether or not it would involve Covid-19 vaccine passports.
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.
The owner received 4,000 angry messages as a result of a confusing press release from the DCMS which quoted the club as being involved in safety trials, but remained ambiguous as to whether this was the same as the certificates trial.
The angry outpour highlights the split opinion on the introduction of vaccine passports in the coming months - not to mention a lack of clear guidance available to venues preparing to open their doors once again in less than three months.
Andre had biting words for the government's handling of the live industry during the pandemic: "As a business owner I don't believe a word they say anymore.
"They contradict themselves constantly which makes it nigh on impossible to plan events."
The venue has a handful of music events planned for the summer, including the rescheduled Sonic Wellness album listening events and an acid house DJ night courtesy of Richard Fearless.
Under the government lockdown roadmap there could be full capacity gigs hosted from June 21.
But Andre has kept the majority of the events scheduled from September onwards - and said nothing is certain at this stage.
He said: "I'm personally confident about things from September going ahead - we've got a few things lined up for the summer, I'm less confident about that but I'm just playing it a bit slow. We're just going to wait and see how that goes I guess, because a lot that can go wrong between now and then."
"They contradict themselves constantly which makes it nigh on impossible to plan events..."
And despite his confidence that live music will return to normal by the end of the summer, there are still question marks over exactly what measures could be in place.
Andre said: "We don't know the full legislation or guidance when it comes to that sort of thing - it suggests that there will be no social distancing, but obviously Covid-certificates is one way, maybe rapid testing, some people are talking about masks.
"I'm not sure how masks would work, particularly if you're singing along to a song."