Hot Water Comedy Club Pulls Plug On Trial Gig Over Confused Government Messaging

Hot Water Comedy Club Pulls Out Of Trial Gig Over Confused Government Messaging

The Hot Water Comedy Club in Liverpool is withdrawing from a pilot programme to trial rapid Covid testing at entertainment venues. It says it is pulling out of all such programmes because of confused Government messaging and misleading media articles that have resulted in a hate campaign against the club.

The club has issued this statement: "We agreed to be part of the ‘Event Research Programme’ in early March. We were made aware that the purpose of this landmark event was to prove that venues and events like ours could be safely reopened and take place. We understood that evidence of the results would be used to support the case for the FULL reopening of venues like ours WITHOUT the need for social distancing. Vaccine passports were never at any time mentioned in any of the discussions we had prior to agreeing to put on the event.

The Liverpool Echo released the article, noted below, on 13th March after we had agreed to be involved.

We believed that Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden set out clearly the intention of the event when he said: "These test events will be crucial in finding ways to get fans and audiences back in safely without social distancing. We will be guided by the science and medical experts, but will work flat out to make that happen. We want to get the people back to enjoying what they love and ensure some of our most important growth industries get back on their feet. These are important steps towards the safe and special summer we all crave and that I’m fully focused on delivering."

We were closed for most of last year but did open whenever legally allowed. We spent over £30k on becoming covid secure based on government guidance and had extra staff on hand to make sure that all customers were checking in on the track and trace app. To this day we have never had a single case linked back to us, but we were still forced to close. We were among the first industries to close and will likely be amongst the last to open.

Fast forward a few weeks to a press release sent out by the government to all UK media. The headlines were all about ‘vaccine passports’. For some reason, all trials had been bundled together under the same press release and it seemed that we were part of the vaccine passport programme. We also happened to be the very first event of any trial in operation so, not surprisingly, the headlines mentioned ‘Hot Water Comedy Club’ and ‘The Vaccine Passport Programme’ as if we were part of the Programme.

On Saturday evening, around 9:30pm, we were made aware of an article in The Mirror closely followed by one in the Liverpool Echo with headlines about vaccine passports and our involvement with them. We then contacted Liverpool Council along with our contacts at the venue as we were very concerned about the way we had been portrayed in the media linking us to vaccine passport trials, something we had never agreed to. Below is an extract from the email I received Liverpool Council.

“This story is wide of the mark – I am assured by the DCMS that this has not been briefed out by them. We will be clear in our comms that there will be no use of vaccine passports.”

Unfortunately damage had already been done. Over the next 2 days we were subject to a hate campaign from people opposing the vaccine passport across our Facebook channel, Twitter, Instagram, emails, text messages, negative reviews, refund requests and phone calls. We have over 4,000 separate examples of negative reaction which have significantly damaged our business and brand.

We went out on all of our social channels and had over 15 interviews with the media to correct the record about our involvement in the trial event and what we had agreed to be a part of. Unfortunately there are lots of articles still circulating wrongly stating our involvement.

Yesterday evening we were made aware of the following document: ( 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 releases/media articles and the confusing messaging on the official government website (which was last updated on 5th April 2021) 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.

We look forward to seeing you all again soon!

Hot Water Comedy Club "

The gig was due to take place on April 16 at the The Auditorium, M&S Bank Arena and feature Paul Smith, Adam Rowe, Jamie Sutherland and Mick Ferry.

Hot Water owner Paul Blair told the Guardian earlier this week that the club was not and would never be part of the programme and added that the venue had received abuse on social media and emails from people accusing it of being part of a “medical apartheid...I’m trying to put out fires, even though we didn’t start them.” 



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