A comedy club has pulled out of a trial to test how venues can operate safely after it said the government failed to clarify whether 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.

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

The club has subsequently cancelled its event, which was due to be the first in the pilot. It had been due to take place on 16 April with an audience of 300 at Liverpool’s M&S Bank Arena Auditorium.

“The reason for us backing out is the government wasn’t clear about the Covid passports,” Blair told the PA news agency. “The problem is we don’t know what we signed up for.”

DCMS announced over the weekend that a series of pilot events were planned for the coming months as officials look to find a way for venues such as football grounds and nightclubs to reopen without the need for social distancing.

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

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 had 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.

It comes after Liverpool city council said on Sunday that 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 four of the road map out of lockdown in June.

DCMS has been approached for comment.

This content first appear on the guardian

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