Health secretary Sajid Javid announced that plans to introduce vaccine passports for access into nightclubs and large events in England will not go ahead. “We shouldn’t be doing things for the sake of it.” According to him, the government had looked at the evidence, adding: “I’m pleased to say we will not be going ahead.”
This reversal comes after the executive repeated this week its intention to introduce a vaccination certificate for entry to stadiums or discos at the end of September. “We have considered it as we should, and while we should keep it in reserve as a potential option, I am pleased to say that we are not going to proceed with our vaccine passport project,” he added.
It was thought the plan, which came under criticism from venues and some MPs, would be introduced at the end of this month. No 10 stressed it would be kept “in reserve” should it be needed over autumn or winter.
Under the scheme, people would have been required to show proof – whether of double vaccination, a negative Covid test or finishing self-isolating after a positive PCR test – in order to gain entry to clubs and other crowded events.
The Night Time Industries Association warned the plans could have crippled the industry and seen nightclubs facing discrimination cases. The industry body has since welcomed the move, saying it hoped businesses could now plan with some certainty and start to rebuild the sector and regain customers’ confidence.
The Music Venue Trust, which aims to protect grassroots venues, also welcomed the announcement, describing vaccine passports as “problematic”.
There was opposition too from Tory MPs on the Covid Recovery Group and the Liberal Democrats, whose leader Ed Davey called them “divisive, unworkable and expensive”.
Speaking on The Andrew Marr Show, Mr Javid said: “I’ve never liked the idea of saying to people you must show your papers or something to do what is just an everyday activity, but we were right to properly look at it.
“We’ve looked at it properly and, whilst we should keep it in reserve as a potential option, I’m pleased to say that we will not be going ahead with plans for vaccine passports.”
Asked if the government was “running scared” on the policy after criticism from its own backbenchers, Mr Javid rejected this, saying vaccine passports were not needed because of other things in the “wall of defence” including high vaccine uptake, testing, surveillance and new treatments.
On Sunday, the latest government figures showed there were 29,173 new cases of coronavirus in the UK and 56 further deaths, of people who had tested positive within the previous 28 days.