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No vaccine passports: UK PM to set out winter COVID-19 plan

  • No vaccine passports: UK PM to set out winter COVID-19 plan
    Sajid Javid told the BBC: "We shouldn't be doing things for the sake of it." No vaccine passports: UK PM to set out winter COVID-19 plan
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British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will set out on Tuesday his plans to manage the COVID-19 pandemic in the winter months, announcing a decision to scrap the introduction of vaccine passports and steps to end some emergency powers.

 

 

Plans to introduce vaccine passports for access into nightclubs and large events in England will not go ahead, the health secretary has said.

Sajid Javid told the BBC: "We shouldn't be doing things for the sake of it."

He said the government had looked at the evidence, adding: "I'm pleased to say we will not be going ahead."

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.

Javid added the government would remain "cautious", but "the vaccine programme, our testing programme, our surveillance programme, the new treatments ... this is all our wall of defence and whilst there's a lot of virus around, it is working".

The night-time industry welcomed the U-turn on vaccine passports, with Michael Kill, the chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association (NTIA) trade body, saying he hoped businesses would be able to "start to rebuild a sector that has consistently been at the sharp end of this pandemic".

The government also said it expected Britain's Joint Committee for Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) to confirm the details of a vaccination booster programme to begin this month.

Britain, which has one of the highest official COVID-19 death tolls in the world, has seen the number of cases climb over the last few months after easing restrictions in July, when the government first bet on vaccines to protect the public.

The government was handed sweeping emergency powers in March 2020 with the introduction of the Coronavirus Act, which included measures to shut down businesses, to close down sectors of the economy and the right to detain infectious people.

"These extraordinary times required necessary but intrusive measures. But I'm determined to get of rid of any powers we no longer need because of our vaccine defences," said Johnson in a statement.

The opposition Labour Party said it agreed it was a "reasonable" approach to take some measures off the statute book but warned the government that winter could punish the National Health Service (NHS).

"We know that winter is going to be difficult, the NHS are fearing the worst winter in living memory, we know we're going to have more flu, respiratory problems," Labour's health policy chief Jonathan Ashworth told Times Radio.