Loophole means pubs and bars with dance floors only have to check Covid passes at 1am

Daisy Jackson Daisy Jackson - 14th December 2021

A confusing loophole in the Government’s guidance means that late-night pubs and bars don’t have to check customers’ Covid passes until 1am – even though nightclubs do.

It means that some venues can choose to allow punters to enter their venues unchecked until that time – but will have to carry out checks once the clock strikes 1am.

The guidance states that staff ‘must make sure that everyone in the venue between 1am and 5am is vaccinated, has completed a recent negative test, or is exempt’.

The rule applies even when a customer has ended the venue earlier than 1am – so customers can enter the bar without proof of Covid status at 11pm, but if they stay until 1am they should have to show their status then instead.

Venues included in the loophole must fit the following criteria:

  • are open at any point between 1am and 5am
  • serve alcohol after 1am
  • have a dancefloor (or space for dancing)
  • provide music, whether live or recorded, for dancing

Read more: Dominic Raab tells Sky News 250 people are in hospital with Omicron – there’s actually 10

The Department of Health does, however, say that venues like ‘nightclubs, dancehalls and discotheques’ must check Covid-19 statuses of all guests at all times.


People on Twitter have been perplexed by the strange rule.

One person tweeted: “Dave, I know you’ve been doing the Macarena for 20 minutes but it’s 1am, get your COVID pass out.”

The DoH provided an example to try and clear things up: “A bar is open throughout the day and stays open later than 1am. 


“It meets the criteria for mandatory use of the NHS COVID Pass (because it provides music and a dance floor, serves alcohol, and stays open later than 1am).

“The manager is not required to check the COVID-19 status of anyone who leaves the venue before 1am but must take reasonable measures to ensure that everyone who remains in, or enters, the premises after 1am has the NHS COVID Pass (or other accepted evidence).”

Confused? Us too.

Featured image: Unsplash