COVID-19: Vaccine passports for pubs? Minister does not explicitly rule out move – Asia Despatch

  • Share

A minister has not explicitly ruled out the prospect of the government requiring vaccine passports for people to go to pubs.

Business minister Paul Scully told Kay Burley that ministers are “not saying crowded pubs at all” as part of plans to require people to prove their COVID-19 vaccine status to enter nightclubs and other “crowded venues” from the end of September.

Live COVID updates from the UK and around the world

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Anger in nightclubs over COVID rules

But in the same answer he went on to say that “we’re not ruling anything out”, before adding: “We’re saying nightclubs and also larger ticketed events as well.”

When it was put to him that some pubs can be as crowded as nightclubs, Mr Scully told Sky News the government has to “work on the definition” of “crowded venues” that will be covered by vaccine passports

He said: “We’ve got to define it really carefully and we’ll do that in the coming months until we get there.”

Asked about the prospect of vaccine passports for pubs at a Downing Street news conference on Monday, Boris Johnson said he did not want a situation where people are asked to “produce papers” to get into pubs but did not rule it out.

The prime minister said “I certainly don’t want to see passports for pubs” but in enclosed crowded places with close contact “we reserve a right to do what is necessary to protect the public”.

Mr Scully added that “a number of” sporting venues are already looking at requiring vaccine passports for entry.

Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, told Monday’s news conference that nightclubs could be “potential super spreading events”.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Clubbers will need double jabs for entry

Asked why the measure was not being introduced immediately in light of this, Mr Scully said ministers have “got to get the detail right”.

Some 35% of 18 to 30-year-olds – three million people – are unvaccinated, but the minister denied it was effectively a “bribe” to younger people to get them vaccinated, stressing the move was about stopping the NHS being “overwhelmed”.

“This is the right thing to do to make sure that we get on top of the transmission of cases,” Mr Scully said.

Labour’s shadow economic secretary Pat McFadden told Sky News that vaccine passports could have a role to play if combined with testing.

Speaking to Kay Burley, Mr McFadden said: “I think it could have a role to play if combined with testing, but vaccine passports are not enough on their own when only two-thirds of the population have had a double vaccine. So we’ve still got about a third of the population who haven’t had that.

“They’ll also be a proportion of the population who for some medical reason maybe can’t have the vaccination. So vaccination on its own can’t just be the whole answer, it’s got to be something which runs alongside testing.”

He said Labour would examine the details of the government’s proposals before deciding whether or not to support them.

The announcement of vaccine passports for nightclubs was made by the government on the day they were allowed to open for the first time since March 2020.

Mr Johnson is facing a backlash over the policy, with industry figures condemning it as an “absolute shambles”.

The PM told Monday’s news conference that “some of life’s most important pleasures and opportunities are likely to be increasingly dependent on vaccination”, pointing to international travel in particular.

He said there was concern about the “continuing risk posed by nightclubs”, adding: “I don’t want to have to close nightclubs again as they have elsewhere, but it does mean nightclubs need to do the socially responsible thing and make use of the NHS COVID pass.

“I should serve notice now that by the end of September, when all over-18s will have had their chance to be double jabbed, we are planning to make full vaccination the condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather.”

Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said there would be “appropriate” exemptions for people who have medical conditions that mean they cannot get vaccinated.

  • Share