Vaccine passports will likely shut young people away from venues such as nightclubs, theatres and cinemas until the autumn, hospitality chiefs have warned.
The Prime Minister announced on Monday that the government will prioritise rapid Covid tests to reopen “those bits [of the economy] that have been the toughest nuts to crack”.
He said a programme of on-the-spot lateral flow tests in combination with wide-scale vaccination “will probably be the route forward.”
However, vaccines deployment minister Nadhim Zahawi today said it was “up to businesses” whether to enforce proof of vaccination among customers.
He had previously warned that the use of domestic vaccine passports would be “wrong”, with ministers ruling them out for entrance to pubs and restaurants.
Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), said: “Because people are not going to be vaccinated in age groups that we attract, the idea of vaccine passports won’t be helpful [when restrictions are lifted].
“If you are 23 you might not be vaccinated until August or September, so that doesn’t really help the industry.”
Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UK Hospitality, added: “If you consider where we are going to be in terms of vaccination in the working population, particularly young people won’t be vaccinated until the autumn. It’s just not workable in a hospitality setting.”
She said testing should be carried out at the discretion of the venues, adding: “It’s manageable for weddings or concerts, but it isn’t practical or feasible in a hospitality setting where customers are just popping into a coffee shop or a cafe.”
So far, more than 16m people in the UK have received their first dose of the vaccine, including the top four priority groups.
The government has set a target of May for vaccinating everyone over the age of 50, with all adults in the UK set to be offered their first dose of the vaccine by the autumn.
Clive Dix, head of the UK’s vaccine taskforce, said yesterday that every adult in the UK will “probably” receive both doses of a coronavirus vaccine by August.
Speaking to Sky News, Dix said: “We are confident within the vaccine taskforce now that the supply we’re going to get will take us to position where we can vaccinate as many people as the UK wants to vaccinate.”
A spokesman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: “At this stage of the vaccination programme, it is not clear whether vaccines will prevent transmission.
“As large numbers of people from at risk groups are vaccinated, we will be able to gather the evidence to prove the impact on infection rates, hospitalisation and reduced deaths. If successful, this should in time lead to a reassessment of current restrictions.”