ENGLAND: Plans to introduce vaccine passports across England for access into nightclubs and large events will not go ahead, Sajid Javid, the health secretary has said.
Just weeks after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced the controversial documents would be necessary for fully vaccinated people to go to nightclubs and other crowded venues, Sajid Javid said the policy had been suspended and would not go ahead from 1 October as planned initially.
Johnson will confirm the move on Tuesday, when he is expected to make a Commons statement and hold a press conference to prepare people for a difficult winter, with measures such as mask-wearing and social distancing possibly being reintroduced at a national or local level.
But Conservative opponents fear the policy could still be made mandatory later this year amid a warning the NHS faces “the worst winter in living memory”.
Just a week ago, the vaccines minister had defended the scheme as the “best way” to keep the night industry open.
The vaccine passports policy which had been set to be introduced at the end of this month – would be kept “in reserve” should it be needed over autumn or winter.
Under the scheme, people would have been required to show proof – whether of double vaccination, a negative Covid test or finishing self-isolating after a positive PCR test – in order to gain entry to clubs and other crowded events.
Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show of BBC, Javid said: “We just shouldn’t be doing things for the sake of it or because others are doing, and we should look at every possible intervention properly.”
He said he had “never liked the idea of saying to people you must show your papers” to “do what is just an everyday activity”.
“We’ve looked at it properly and, whilst we should keep it in reserve as a potential option, I’m pleased to say that we will not be going ahead with plans for vaccine passports,” he added.
The Night Time Industries Association had said the plans could have crippled the industry and led to nightclubs facing discrimination cases.
The industry body welcomed Sunday’s announcement, saying it hoped businesses could now plan with some certainty and start to rebuild the sector.
The Music Venue Trust, which aims to protect grassroots venues, also said it was glad vaccine passports would not be going ahead, describing them as “problematic”.
The passport policy had received backlash from the opposition – Tory MPs on the Covid Recovery Group as well as the Liberal Democrats, whose leader Ed Davey called vaccine passports “divisive, unworkable and expensive”.
Stephen Reicher, who advises the government on behavioural science told the Guardian: “If you don’t use vaccine passports, you’ve got to have something better. It really concerns me that the government haven’t done anything to make venues safe. There seems to be a lack of a winter plan.”