The vaccines deployment minister has refused to rule out introducing Covid jab certifications for indoor pints later in the year, despite admitting they raise “difficult ethical problems”.
Speaking on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, Nadhim Zahawi insisted that there would be no vaccine passport requirements when pubs reopen their doors for outdoor service on Monday.
“In May, you will be able to go inside the pub and enjoy your drink, and there is no question of a vaccine certification being asked for,” he added.
However, the vaccines minister refused to say whether they will be used beyond 21 June once all restrictions are lifted.
“Use of certification domestically does throw up a number of difficult ethical questions, which is why Michael Gove has been consulting with businesses, with stakeholders, with colleagues in Parliament, so that we listen to all sorts of views,” Zahawi said this morning.
Gove is currently overseeing a review into the use of vaccine certificates, with the findings due to be handed to the Prime Minister in May.
Zahawi said it would be “completely remiss and irresponsible” of ministers not to trial the proposals in a bid to push down coronavirus cases once businesses reopen from months of closure.
“It’s only responsible as we see how this virus behaves, as we see how other countries are utilising technologies to make sure they keep the virus under control, then we should look at the same thing,” he told Sky News.
“It’s only the right thing to do, we’re all working towards the same outcome, which is to get our lives back, get our economy back up and running.”
In a document published last nightie government insisted there are some settings such as public transport and supermarkets where people “should never be required” to prove their Covid status.
However, it added that vaccine passports could play a role in other settings such as hospitality, theatres, nightclubs, festivals or sports events.
Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth accused the government of “creating confusion” in refusing to spell out whether they will be used in certain venues.
“I just want ministers to be honest and straight with us and tell us exactly what their policy proposals are,” he said.
More than 70 MPs have signed a letter condemning the proposal as “divisive and discriminatory”, including around 40 politicians from Johnson’s own party.
Former Conservative leader Sir Iain Duncan Smith told City A.M. last week that there is “a lot of concern about” the possibility of domestic vaccine passports among the Tory ranks, adding that it could lead to the creation of a two-tier society.
“I just don’t see how it will work and the hospitality sector is up in arms – it’s very difficult to implement and it’s really intrusive,” he said. “We’re planning on having everyone vaccinated, so why would you have vaccine passports?”
Meanwhile, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has signalled his party may oppose the plans after he suggested the use of Covid certificates for entry to pubs and restaurants would go against the “British instinct”.