In its four-stage roadmap for easing lockdown restrictions in England, the Government has committed to reviewing whether 'Covid-status certification' - commonly referred to as a 'vaccine passport' - could play a role in the full reopening of the economy.
Senior ministers have frequently appeared to dismiss the idea of introducing 'vaccine passports' in the UK, with Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi previously labelling them as 'discriminatory'.
According to the Prime Minister, the review - led by Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove - will both look at whether the Government could introduce such certification or, conversely, ban businesses from requiring people to prove their vaccination or Covid-testing status.
Speaking earlier today (23 February), Johnson said the Government had initially 'never thought in terms of having something that you have to show to go to a pub or a theatre', describing the idea as a 'novelty' for the UK.
“There are deep and complex issues that we need to explore, ethical issues about what the role is for Government in mandating people to have such a thing or, indeed, banning people from doing such a thing,” he said.
“We can’t be discriminatory against people who, for whatever reason, can’t have the vaccine - there might be medical reasons why people can’t have the vaccine, or some people may genuinely refuse to have one. Now I think that’s a mistake, I think everybody should have a vaccine, but we need to thrash all this out.”
Johnson added that one area where 'vaccine passports' may have a more likely use is for international travel, on the premise that there was 'no question' other countries would be looking to do something similar.
“They will be insisting on vaccine passports in the way that people used to insist on evidence that you’ve been inoculated against Yellow Fever,” he said.
“So it’s going to come on the international stage whatever.”