Boris Johnson has today strongly hinted that pubs and restaurants will be able to turn away people who have not have a Covid vaccine or a recent negative test, saying the “concept of vaccine certification should not be totally alien to us”.
When asked by a Westminster committee about the the prospect of Covid vaccine passports to enter venues, the Prime Minister said Britons wanted “their government and me as the Prime Minister to take all the actions I can to protect them”.
However, there has already been suggestions that pubs will choose not to police vaccine passports, with an industry body calling the idea “absurd”.
Lockdown-sceptic Tory MP Steve Baker also called the idea a “ghastly trap”.
The government last month launched a review into introducing vaccine certification for hospitality and large-scale events as the country reopens from lockdown over the next few months.
Number 10 have previously indicated that there would likely be a testing option alongside any mandatory Covid vaccine passports.
Speaking about vaccine passports today, Johnson said: “I think that that’s the kind of thing that may be up to individual publicans, individual landlords.”
When pushed on the issue, he added: “You will appreciate that there are other members of your committee…who take a passionately opposing view for the need for tougher measures and I’ve found myself in this long national conversation thinking very deeply about it.
“I think the public have been thinking deeply about it and I have the impression that there is a huge wisdom in the public’s feeling about this.
“Human beings instinctively recognise when something is dangerous and nasty to them, they can see that Covid is collectively a threat, and they want us as their government and me as the Prime Minister to take all the actions I can to protect them and that’s what I’ve been doing for the last year or more.”
British Pub Confederation chair Greg Mulholland told The Sun that the decision to implement vaccine passports should not be up to venues.
He told The Sun: “For the government to abdicate responsibility and ask pubs to make a moral judgement – it’s just not acceptable.
“Pubs can’t open with any sort of normality until June. So on top of having to take on extra staff to serve people at tables, the idea pubs staff can act as door staff for vaccine passports is absurd.”
Steve Baker said implementing Covid vaccines was a “dangerous path”.
“First they said we’ll need them to watch football, and today that it may be papers for the pub,” he said.
“Whether the state legislates for it, recommends it or simply allows it the result will be the same: a two-tier Britain that prevents pregnant women from taking part in society, given that the government is telling them not to take the vaccine, or one where we turn back the clock and tolerate businesses turning away customers from communities which have shown an unfortunate hesitancy to take the offer of the vaccine.”
Pubs and restaurants will be allowed to reopen on 12 April for outdoor areas, while indoor areas will be allowed to reopen on 17 May.
Sports events will also begin on 17 May with crowds of up to 10,000 people, before attendance limits increase over the summer.
The government is planning on allowing 90,000 people attend the Euro 2020 final in July at Wembley Stadium.
A YouGov survey released last week found 56 per cent of Britons were happy for mandatory vaccine passports to enter shops and hospitality venues.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi was dismissive of the idea of vaccine passports last month, saying they would be discriminatory and “it’s not the way we do things here in Britain”.
However, weeks later he significantly softened his stance, saying saying it was “up to businesses to decide”.