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Hot Water Comedy Covid pilot show off over vaccine passport row

Liverpool’s Hot Water Comedy Club has pulled out of the planned Covid-safe events pilot initiative after voicing concerns about its long-term implications and 'confusing messaging' from central government.

The club was due to stage a comedy night at the M&S Bank Arena Auditorium on April 16 – one of four test events being run by Culture Liverpool, the University of Liverpool and the DCMS.

Officials hoped the study, which also includes open-air cinema, a business event and a club night, would help find ways of opening up the cultural sector as we emerge from pandemic restrictions.

Covid safe measures being used would include lateral flow testing before and after the event, along with exploring how different approaches to social distancing, ventilation and test-on-entry protocols could ease opening and maximise participation.

But reports in some sections of the press that Covid passports would be needed to attend – which is not the case – have led to Hot Water bosses receiving a stream of online abuse from people opposing their introduction.

And now the club has quit the pilot, with an official statement released last night pointing to a new government ‘roadmap reviews update’ and saying: “This, in our opinion, is very unclear and confusing as it looks like this trial is a pre-cursor to Covid-status certification (vaccine passports) led events further down the line.

“As a consequence of misleading press release/media articles and the confusing messaging on the official government website, we have made the decision not to be a part of any programme at all.

“We have still not managed to speak to anybody in the government about this.”

Director of Culture Liverpool Claire McColgan said: “We fully respect and support the decision by Hot Water Comedy Club not to be part of national event pilot in Liverpool. The level of online abuse they have received is shocking and undeserved.

“The city’s pilot forms part of the government’s Event Research Programme which will use lateral flow testing to gather data to inform, influence and shape how venues safely reopen their doors.”

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