Covid passports for pints possible ‘after all Brits offered vaccine’

Boris Johnson sought to calm fears amid backlash over his ‘no jab no pint’ proposal

Covid passports for pints would only be introduced after all Brits have been offered the vaccine, Boris Johnson has insisted.

The PM sought to calm fears over the possible introduction of health certificates after he suggested people could be asked for proof of a jab to go to the pub.

The comments triggered a backlash from Tory MPs, pub landlords and scientists.

In a bid to quell anger, Mr Johnson said on Thursday that there is going to be ‘a role for certification’ but indicated any such scheme would not be introduced until all adults have been offered a jab at the end of July.

The PM said there were ‘difficult issues… moral complexities, [and] ethical problems that need to be addressed’, adding that ‘whatever happens’ the reopening of pub gardens next month will be unaffected.

He told reporters: ‘There are lots of difficult issues because there are some people who for medical reasons can’t get a vaccination – pregnant women can’t get a vaccination at the moment.

‘You’ve got to be careful about how you do this, you might only be able to implement a thorough-going vaccinate passport scheme, even if you wanted such a thing, in the context of when absolutely everybody had been offered a vaccine.’

The Prime Minister said no decision had been made on health certificates and that an update on the idea would be given next month while a review would be completed by June.

He said ‘I do think there is going to be a role for certification’ but that this may be limited to foreign travel.

Any such certificate could ask for proof of a vaccine, a negative test or Covid antibodies.

Mr Johnson said: ‘There are three basic components. There’s the vaccine, there’s your immunity you might have had after you’ve had Covid and there’s testing – they are three things that could work together.’

The Prime Minister said on Wednesday that it ‘may be up to individual publicans’ whether they carry out health certificate checks on punters.

 A general view of a pub in London,

Covid certificates won’t be introduced until everyone is offered the vaccine, the PM has suggested (Picture: EPA)

Conservative MPs branded the idea ‘discriminatory’ and a worrying step towards making vaccination mandatory, while the boss of one of the UK’s major pub chains called it ‘a fairly poorly thought-out idea’ that would expose young staff to confrontation with customers.

A Whitehall source said ministers are considering plans to allow landlords to scrap social distancing if they check Covid health certificates on entry.

The proposal would allow pubs to operate at much higher capacity, but would not be mandatory.

Those who do not want to enforce the checks would be allowed to reopen but would have to ensure social distancing is maintained.

Jonathan Neame, the chief executive of Shepherd Neame, ruled out making vaccines mandatory for entry to his premises, warning bar staff could be ‘subject to intimidation’.

‘This is fraught with difficulty, I think, and it is, in my view, a fairly poorly thought out idea at this stage,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of the UKHospitality trade body, said the plan is ‘simply unworkable’ and the British Beer and Pub Association said the requirement would not be ‘appropriate or necessary’.

Scientists also weighed in on the row, with Sir Jeremy Farrar saying the proposal ‘crosses that line of individual freedoms and public health’.

Get in touch with our news team by emailing us at webnews@metro.co.uk.

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