Sajid Javid has announced the government will not be moving forward with plans to implement mandatory vaccine passports for night clubs and large-scale events.
The measure will be scrapped, after two weeks of assurances from Number 10 and ministers that they would still be brought in at the end of this month.
Boris Johnson originally announced in July that people would need to show proof of vaccination to enter night clubs and large events from the end of September.
This came after a months long review by Michael Gove into Covid certification initially ruled out mandatory vaccine passports.
Javid told the BBC today that the government had U-turned again on the measure.
“We shouldn’t be doing things for the sake of it or just because others are doing it. We should look at every possible intervention properly,” he said.
“You asked about vaccine passports, I think most people instinctively don’t like the idea. I’ve never liked the idea of saying to people, ‘you must show your papers’ to do what is an everyday activity.
“We were right to properly look at it, to look at the evidence. What I can say is that we’ve looked at it properly and, while we should keep it in reserve as a potential option, I’m pleased to say we won’t be going ahead with plans for vaccine passports.”
It comes just three days after vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi told the House of Commons that implementing vaccine passports “goes against everything I believe in”, but that “it’s the right thing to do”.
Culture secretary Oliver Dowden on Friday said vaccine passports could be brought in for venues beyond night clubs.
There will now be speculation that Johnson’s plan was to threaten Covid certification without ever implementing it to coerce younger people to get the jab.
The Prime Minister announced the measure when vaccine take-up among 18 to 30 year-olds was far lower than all other age groups.
The numbers have since improved vastly and now more than 80 per cent of all over-16s are fully vaccinated.
Javid told the BBC that many countries had implemented vaccine passports “to boost their vaccination rates and you can understand why they might have done that”.
“We have been very successful with our vaccination rates so far and there’s more to do,” he said.
It would have also been difficult for Johnson to get mandatory vaccine passports through a House of Commons vote, with dozens of Tory MPs ready to rebel.
Beaconsfield MP, and parliamentary private secretary for the Foreign Office’s ministerial team, Joy Morrissey told MPs on Monday that she was “very concerned at the idea of vaccine passports generally, but in particular the effect they will have on small businesses”.
Deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner today said: “The government’s approach to Covid passports has been shambolic from the start.
“There has never been any clarity from ministers about what vaccine passports were supposed to achieve, how they would work and what was expected from businesses and workers.
“This is the culmination of a summer of chaos from ministers and they urgently need to get a grip before winter.”