Boris Johnson says Britons WON’T need to show a Covid vaccine passport to go to the pub – but admits documents could be required to go on holiday
- Vaccine passports mired in confusion after series of contradictory statements
- Boris promised today scheme will likely be used for travel, but not domestically
- Eight firms awarded Government grants to develop vaccine passport technology
Boris Johnson today promised Britons will not need to carry a ‘vaccine passport’ to go to the pub when the country comes out of lockdown.
The Prime Minister shot down growing reports the controversial scheme is being looked at as a tactic to keep the economy open when restrictions are finally lifted.
But Mr Johnson conceded that some form of proof of vaccination will likely be needed to get international travel back up and running in the future.
Eight firms have been awarded Government grants to develop the technology, but No10 has repeatedly said such documents will not be introduced in the UK.
But the scheme has been mired in confusion following a series of contradictory statements from ministers – Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab yesterday suggested supermarkets and the hospitality sector could use them.
Critics say the scheme would be ‘discriminatory’ and make the voluntary jabs mandatory by proxy.
During a visit to a community vaccination centre in Orpington, South East London, today, Mr Johnson admitted the passports were being looked at for international travel but claimed they were not being considered domestically.
He said: ‘I think inevitably there will be great interest in ideas like can you show that you had a vaccination against Covid in the way that you sometimes have to show you have had a vaccination against Yellow Fever or other diseases in order to travel somewhere.
‘I think that is going to be very much in the mix down the road, I think that is going to happen. What I don’t think we will have in this country is – as it were – vaccination passports to allow you to go to, say, the pub or something like that.’
It came after Dominic Raab suggested yesterday vaccine passports could be used in supermarkets and pubs, sparking more confusion over the controversial scheme.
The Foreign Secretary appeared to contradict a series of other government statements as he said the idea was ‘under consideration’.
The comments risked provoking anger from Tories who are already deeply alarmed about the way the pandemic has hammered civil liberties.
Boris Johnson today promised Britons will not need to carry a ‘vaccine passport’ to go to the pub when the country comes out of lockdown, during a visit to Orpington Health and Wellbeing Centre
The Prime Minister posed for a photo with Silvester Biyibi, who had just received his coronavirus vaccine
Eight firms have been awarded Government grants to develop vaccine passport technology, many of which use scannable QR codes (file)
The Prime Minister also said that he expects there to be an increase in ‘rapid testing’ as more of the population is vaccinated and the UK comes out of its lockdown.
Mr Johnson said: ‘Looking at the future, what we hope to have is such a high proportion of the population vaccinated that when you couple that with rapid testing – lateral flow testing – you really start to get the kind of answers that you’re talking about.
Wetherspoon today called on the Government to open its pubs at the same time as non-essential shops as bars remain shut across Britain during the third lockdown.
Ministers are said to be considering plans to allow hospitality firms to serve customers outside by Easter, which falls on the weekend of April 2.
But a full reopening is not expected until May at the earliest – and Wetherspoon boss Tim Martin warned that the industry is ‘on its knees’ and must reopen to save jobs.
It comes as Mitchells & Butlers, which owns All Bar One, Toby Carvery and Harvester said it will raise £350million from its largest investors to shore up its finances.
M&B, which is Britain’s largest listed pub company, operates around 1,700 restaurants and pubs across the UK but cut about 1,300 jobs last year.
The developments follow a bust-up between pub groups and the Government which has seen companies pull out of regular business roundtables in frustration.
The head of industry body UK Hospitality warned today said there will need to be more support for businesses if restrictions continue.
Kate Nicholls said that flexible furlough and grants would need to be extended past its March 31 cut-off without some way of opening to make money.
Today, Mr Martin spoke of the huge contribution pubs make to the economy, with Wetherspoon alone paying about £10 of tax for every pound of profit it makes.
‘So I think it’s in the context of … having vaccinated a lot of the population, as we’re already doing – and we’ll do a lot more of in the next few months – that the rapid test approach will start, I think, to come into its own.’
Last week it emerged at least eight firms have been awarded Government grants to develop schemes that would allow users to carry digital proof that they have received an approved Covid-19 jab.
The projects, given a total of £450,000 between them, aim to provide a way to get people back to work and reopen international travel without the risk of fuelling the pandemic.
The grants have been dished out by InnovateUK, a non-departmental public agency which claims it ‘operates at arm’s length from the Government’.
Logifect, a Kent firm handed £62,000 in grants, has designed a phone app linking to a digital passport that includes a photo of them. It is due to launch next month.
London-based iProov and Mvine, in Surrey, have been given £75,000 for their joint effort, according to the newspaper. They are developing digital ‘certificates’ that would provide people with confirmation of their vaccinations.
Executives at all three firms have said they plan to pitch their technologies to the Government before the current national lockdown ends.
Another of the recipient projects is led by Enduring Net, which is working on a £49,678 decentralised system that can digitally provide ‘proofs of individuals’ Covid-19 credentials’, which will include proof of vaccination.
EAS Technologies’ project was given £173,876 to develop an accreditation platform that hopes to be used by organisers of the ‘world’s largest sporting organisations, events, and facilities’.
A short description on the funding page suggests the project will be used for proving staff and contractors at events have been vaccinated, but could also provide a ‘track and trace’ system for those attending the events.
It comes amid claims major City firms are expecting to start using digital health passports from next month to help get staff back to offices.
Covid-19 testing firm Prenetics has signed deals with around 100 companies – including investment banks based at Canary Wharf in London – to help get staff back to work safely.
Employees using its Digital Health Passport will download an app onto their mobile phone, which will store results of their Covid tests and vaccine certificates when they have had their jabs.
Meanwhile, Spain’s tourism minister has fuelled hopes Britons could go on holiday this summer with ‘vaccine passports’.
Fernando Valdes has reportedly raised the prospect that travel could resume within months due to the success of the UK’s rollout.
He also played down the idea that holidaymakers would have to quarantine when they arrived in Spain, saying there are ‘other means’ of limiting spread.
The optimistic comments emerged as the government steps up work on a system of ‘vaccine passports’ that could free those who have had jabs from the draconian restrictions on travel.
UK ministers have refused to be drawn on when holidays might be back on the agenda, amid mixed messages on whether anyone should be looking to book at this stage.
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