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Is this app going to save clubbing in 2021?
Es Paradis Courtesy of @ibiza_past

Is this app going to save clubbing in 2021?

Liberty Pass allows users to come and go from venues over 72 hours, potentially paving the way for a return to COVID-free partying

The coronavirus pandemic forced clubs and live music venues across the world to close, while festivals and other large gatherings were cancelled or indefinitely postponed. However, there may now be hope that partying could return sooner rather than later with the help of a new app, Liberty Pass, which could pave the way for a return to clubbing next year. 

The app was announced at the virtual edition of the seventh annual International Nightlife Congress, an organisation committed to promoting “positive contributions from nightlife entrepreneurs”. It works by collecting official information from medical centres regarding antigen testing, PCR tests, and vaccines. The app then displays a QR code with a green tick if an individual's tests come up as negative, allowing them access to particular venues or events.

The results stay active for 72 hours for each individual, allowing them to access clubs and events over that time period. Once the QR code expires however, they will need to produce another negative test. If a user is vaccinated then their status will remain active for the length of time the vaccine is valid.

The Spanish party island of Ibiza could be an early adopter of the technology in a bid to get its vibrant clubbing scene back in motion. Spain Nightlife and International Nightlife Association secretary-general Joaquim Boadas, told DJ Mag that the app could be used to open venues in 2021, along with other health measures including regular hand sanitising and the wearing of masks when not drinking.

The Spanish nightlife association, Spain Nightlife, has made an agreement with Liberty Pass to introduce the app, although a launch date is yet been announced. In the UK, however, there are no plans to adopt this type of technology as the nightlife sector continues to struggle after many venues have been closed since March. 

Michael Gove, Minister for the Cabinet Office said on Tuesday that: “There were no plans for vaccine passports to allow people into pubs and restaurants.” He told Sky News: “Certainly I do not plan to introduce any vaccine passports and I do not know anyone else in the government who is planning it.”

Last month, experts warned that UK nightclubs face extinction due to the coronavirus pandemic. While other venues such as pubs, bars, and cafés have been able to reopen in some capacity since the first UK lockdown in March, nightclubs have for the most part remained closed. Speaking to Dazed, Michael Kill, CEO of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), said: “The failure in many ways has been (the exclusion of nightlife) from the narrative, as well as the lack of economic and cultural recognition and value, robust financial support packages for businesses, and an exit strategy or direction of travel.”

Back in October the iconic LGBTQ+ club G-A-Y launched a lawsuit against a 10pm curfew imposed by the government to try and curb rising levels of coronavirus cases in the UK. It questioned the “arbitrary decision” which led to many pubs, bars, and clubs taking heavy financial hits from having to close early. The result of G-A-Y’s hearing, held on December 3, is yet to be disclosed. 

In the wake of closed venues and curfews, partygoers in the UK have been flocking to illegal raves to get their hit of hedonism. Back in July, pictures emerged from a lockdown rave near Manchester showing large crowds, thought to be approaching 4,000-strong, drinking, dancing, and inhaling nos in a woodland opening. It was just one of many illegal parties held across the UK since the outbreak, with several others popping up in London, Leeds, Norfork, Essex and various other locations.

Lockdown in the UK was lifted on December 2 and the country has transitioned to a tiered system. In tier one, pubs and bars can open but must stick to table service, while in tier two, the sale of alcohol is only permitted alongside a “substantial meal”. In tier three, pubs, bars, and restaurants must stay closed. This approach has been widely criticised as many venues must remain shut without the same level of support offered to them during the country-wide lockdowns.

With no vaccine passport technology planned for implementation in the UK, and many clubs still facing an uncertain future, Kill suggests that staying “tuned in” and “engaging” with your favourite venues is a good way to support them, whether that’s financially, or through sharing messages of support.

Read our feature here on the future of post-pandemic partying.