Opposition mounts over 'vaccine passports' plan

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Opposition mounts over 'vaccine passports' plan from Tory rebels and Labour

Related tags: Vaccine passport, Government, Coronavirus

Opposition is growing within Westminster to the Government's plan to make so-called 'vaccine passports' compulsory to enter crowded venues such as nightclub from the autumn.

At least 42 Tory MPs have signed a cross-party Big Brother Watch declaration​ opposing 'the divisive and discriminatory use of Covid-status certification to deny individuals access to general services, businesses or jobs'.

Last night (21 July), Labour signalled that it could join the Tory rebels in voting against 'vaccine passports', with the Liberal Democrats also vehemently opposed to the plans.

With Labour support, the Tory rebels could defeat the Government’s 80-strong majority in a Commons vote.

Boris Johnson announced on Monday (19 July) that from late September, once all adults have had the chance to receive two jabs, Covid vaccine certificates will be made mandatory in England​.

This despite a recent review concluding there should be no legal requirements​ for their use.

Representatives of the night-time economy have described the decision, which came just hours after nightclubs were allowed to open for the first time in 16 months, as 'devastating'.

Unlike recent pilot events, where attendees have been allowed to show either proof of vaccination or a negative test, people will have to prove they have been double-jabbed, amid concerns about vaccine uptake among young people.

However, a senior Labour source a negative test should be required instead, as even the fully-vaccinated can spread Coronavirus.

“For nightclubs, sporting events or whatever it may be, a negative test is worth more than being double-jabbed,” the source told the Daily Mail​.

Cabinet ministers are also critical of the plan, with one questioning whether it was being floated just to encourage young people to get the jab.

They said it would be unnecessary if 85% of young people are jabbed by September.

“I don’t know if it will actually ever happen. There are no advocates of policy,” one minister said.

Some ministers also fear that the 'passports' could be extended to pubs – something Boris Johnson has failed to rule out.

Downing Street yesterday could not provide any examples where venues had voluntarily used Covid passports outside of trials.

The Prime Minister’s spokesman said that ‘a number of nightclubs and other settings’ used them during pilot events, and stressed it was ‘socially responsible’ for businesses to use them. 

In its official guidance for hospitality businesses published last week, ahead of 'Freedom Day', the Government encouraged all hospitality businesses to check vaccine and testing status as a condition of entry​​ through the NHS Covid Pass.

Pushed on whether there was evidence they were being used, the Prime Minister's spokesman said: "I don’t have specific numbers for you on who is or isn’t using it at the moment, it will be required by law by September."

Related topics: Business & Legislation

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