Published: 14:48, 12 September 2021
| Updated: 14:50, 12 September 2021
Controversial plans to introduce vaccine passports for nightclubs and other crowded venues have been scrapped in a government u-turn.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid has today confirmed the proposals “will not be going ahead”.
The decision comes just days after ministers had defended the divisive policy to sceptical MPs.
Boris Johnson had previously announced everyone would be required to show proof they have had two doses of a Covid vaccine in order to gain entry to clubs and other large-scale events in England.
But following a backlash from Tory MPs, the Health Secretary has now revealed the idea has been shelved.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show, he 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.”
The announcement came shortly after the minister had appeared on Sky News and told host Trevor Phillips a final decision had yet to be made.
He said: “We haven’t made a final decision as a government.”
Labour’s deputy leader, Angela Rayner, says the rapid change showed that “the government’s approach to Covid passports has been shambolic from the start”.
She said: “There has never been any clarity from ministers about what vaccine passports were supposed to achieve, how they would work and what was expected from businesses and workers.
“Days ago, the vaccine minister stood before Parliament to confirm the introduction of Covid passports and stress their importance, now they’ve been scrapped.
'I’m pleased to say that we will not be going ahead with plans for vaccine passports...'
“This is the culmination of a summer of chaos from ministers and they urgently need to get a grip before winter.”
The hospitality sector welcomed the news, including Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA).
He said: “We hope that businesses will now be able to plan for the future with some degree of certainty, regain confidence from customers and the workforce, and start to rebuild a sector that has consistently been at the sharp end of this pandemic.”
Vaccine passports have been rolled out in some countries, such as Austria, as a way of making sure people infected with coronavirus are not entering certain venues.
Two months ago, MPs on the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee published a report which said Covid passports “disproportionately discriminate” against people based on race, religion, age and socio-economic background.
The report said the implementation would “by its very nature be discriminatory” and the MPs found “no justification for introducing a Covid-status certification system that would be sufficient to counter what is likely to be a significant infringement of individual rights”.
Mr Javid also told The Andrew Marr Show how he wanted to remove the need for PCR tests for travel “as soon as I possibly can”.
But asked whether ministers were removing too many measures designed to keep the public safe, he said the government should not be introducing coronavirus measures “just for the sake of it”.
“There’s a lot of defences, we’ve just gone through some of them, that we need to keep in place, because this virus hasn’t gone anywhere," he said.
“There’s still a pandemic so of course we need to remain cautious. But we just shouldn’t be doing things for the sake of it or because others are doing, and we should look at every possible intervention properly.”