Vaccine passports for nightclubs and other large venues are likely to be introduced by the end of this month to avoid them having to close over the winter, the vaccines minister has said.
Earlier this month, Downing Street confirmed the Government would press ahead with plans to check people’s vaccine status despite criticism from MPs on both sides of the Commons.
The scheme would see members of the public required to show proof they have had two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine in order to gain entry to clubs and other large-scale events.
Nadhim Zahawi told Sky’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday that it is the ‘right thing to do’ to ensure the whole economy remains open.
He said: ‘We are looking at, by the end of September when everyone has had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated, for the large venues, venues that could end up causing a real spike in infections, where we need to use the certification process.
‘If you look at what the FA have done, they’ve done so brilliantly in terms of checking vaccine status to reopen football.
‘That is the sort of right thing to do and we are absolutely on track to continue to make sure that we do that.
‘There’s a reason for that … the reason being is that, I, as does the Prime Minister, want to make sure the whole economy remains open.
‘The worst thing we can do for those venues is to have a sort of open-shut-open-shut strategy because we see infection rates rise because of the close interaction of people, that’s how the virus spreads, if people are in close spaces in large numbers we see spikes appearing.
‘The best thing to do then is to work with the industry to make sure that they can open safely and sustainably in the long term, and the best way to do that is to check vaccine status.’
The Government has repeatedly urged young people to get vaccinated over the summer and last month popular clubs in London such as Heaven hosted a pop-up vaccination centre, while other venues and social media firms have amplified the message.
But the approach towards vaccine passports for nightclubs varies around the UK.
The Scottish Parliament is expected to vote on Nicola Sturgeon’s plan for vaccine passports on Thursday, September 9.
Last week, the First Minister said the Government wants to bring the scheme in ‘quickly’ in response to rising coronavirus cases in Scotland.
It comes as statistics confirmed the level of infection in Scotland is at its highest since estimates began last autumn.
In Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford last month said there were ‘no plans’ to introduce mandatory vaccination certificates for venues due to ‘ethical and equality considerations’.
Stormont Ministers have yet to reach an official position on using vaccine access passports within Northern Ireland.
Officials are currently examining policy issues around how a vaccine certification system in the region would work, but the First and deputy First Ministers have already expressed caution over such a step over fears of creating a ‘discriminatory system’.
Last week, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said further details on vaccine passports will be set out ‘in the coming weeks’.
It comes as The Guardian reported that new data showed some people would be more reluctant to be vaccinated if such passports were introduced.
Analysis was conducted of 16,527 people, 14,543 of whom had not yet had both vaccine doses.
Almost 90% of this group (87.8%) said their decision to receive a second dose would not be affected by the introduction of the passport scheme.
The study’s lead author, Dr Alex de Figueiredo from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, told the newspaper the percentages become significant when scaled up to the whole population.
Boris Johnson also previously faced a backlash within his own party over the possibility of domestic vaccine passports, with 43 Conservative MPs signing a declaration opposing them.
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