Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi said the passports are likely to be introduced at venues where the risk of a spike in infections is high in a bid to avoid closures over the winter.
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‘The right thing to do’
Earlier this month, Downing Street confirmed that the government will press ahead with plans to introduce vaccine passports at nightclubs in England from the end of September.
The plans were first announced by Mr Zahawi back in July, who warned that a negative Covid-19 test result would soon “no longer be sufficient” to prove that a person is Covid-safe.
The government proposed making proof of vaccination a condition of entry to certain venues and events by the end of September, as all adults aged 18 and over will have had the chance to receive both vaccine doses by this point, plus the additional two weeks for protection to take hold.
From the end of September onwards, two vaccine doses will be needed to enter nightclubs, with this rule now also expected to extend to other venues where large crowds gather.
Speaking to SkyNews, Mr Zahawi explained that the government wants to avoid a situation where businesses continually have to open and close their doors at short notice due to a Covid outbreak, saying it is ‘right thing to do’ to ensure the 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.”
While a full list of venues where proof of vaccination will be required is yet to be confirmed, the Prime Minister’s official spokesman said last week that further details will be set out “in the coming weeks”.
Will vaccine passports be introduced across the UK?
The approach to vaccine passports is likely to vary across the UK.
The Scottish Parliament is expected to vote on the First Minister’s plans for passports on Thursday (9 September), with Nicola Sturgeon saying last week that the government wants to introduce the scheme “quickly” due to Scotland’s rising coronavirus cases.
Infection rates in the country are currently at the highest level since estimates began last autumn, with the reopening of schools blamed for the increase in cases.
In Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford said last month that the government has “no plans” to introduce mandatory vaccination certificates to enter venues, due to “ethical and equality” concerns.
As for Northern Ireland, Stormont ministers are yet to reach an official position on rolling out vaccine passports.
Officials are currently examining policy issues around how such a system would work, but concerns have already been raised by the First and deputy First Ministers that the use of passports could create a “discriminatory system”.
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