No jab, no service? Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi says it is ‘up to businesses’ to decide if they want to demand proof of vaccination – leaving door open for shops, pubs, restaurants and clubs to REFUSE entry if customers have not been inoculated
- Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi ruled out use of a domestic ‘vaccine passport’
- But he said ‘it is obviously up to businesses’ if they want to require proof of jab
- Government working on vaccine certificate to pave way for international travel
Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi today said it is ‘up to businesses’ to decide if they want to require proof of vaccination before serving customers.
Mr Zahawi ruled out the Government introducing a domestic ‘vaccine passport’ as he said the nation’s vaccination programme and mass-testing are the best tools for getting life back to normal.
He confirmed the Government is working on a form of vaccine certificate which people will be able to ask for should it be a requirement for travelling to a specific country.
But his suggestion that firms could decide for themselves whether to ask for proof of vaccination is likely to cause controversy.
Mr Zahawi’s comments raise the prospect of shops, pubs and restaurants refusing entry to customers if they cannot prove they have been vaccinated against coronavirus.
Boris Johnson has ruled out introducing domestic vaccine passports. The PM is pictured yesterday at a vaccination centre in London.
Officials have vaccinated the vast majority of the top four priority groups — everyone over the age of 70, NHS staff, care home residents and workers, and extremely ill adults
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Mr Zahawi said that ‘if other countries will require a vaccine certificate then I think it is right that we facilitate it’.
But he added: ‘We are not looking at the domestic use of vaccine passports. That is not in our planning. As the Prime Minister described it will be the national vaccination programme combined with rapid testing that I think is the way forward.’
Told that some cinemas are reportedly planning to require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry, Mr Zahawi said: ‘At the moment you have your health data which is held by the national immunisation and vaccination system which your GP has access to and of course if you are on the NHS app you can look at your own health records.
‘We want to make that certificate accessible to people if they need it for international travel, if countries require it.
‘We are not planning a domestic passport for our own domestic use.’
Mr Zahawi was pushed on the issue and was asked if he would want to see businesses like cinemas asking people for proof of vaccination.
He replied: ‘Well, I just think, it is obviously up to businesses what they do but I think at the moment we don’t yet have the evidence of the effect of the vaccines on transmission.
‘It is much better, as the Prime Minister quite rightly focused on, that you look at rapid testing.
‘That is the way forward, combined with a national vaccination programme in the United Kingdom.’
Asking customers for proof of vaccination before granting them entry could raise issues around discrimination law.
Phil Clapp, chief executive of the UK Cinema Association (UKCA), said requiring proof of receipt of a Covid-19 jab would present ‘a range of practical and legal problems’.
He said: ‘At this moment in time, and in the medium term of course, the ongoing rollout of the vaccine makes this impractical, but even when that programme is complete, there will be a number of groups of who will not have been vaccinated for a range of legitimate reasons – some people with disabilities, pregnant women and young people amongst them.
‘Making the proof of vaccination a condition of entry would open up cinemas (as it would other venues) to a host of possible claims for discrimination.’
More than 15 million people in the UK have now received their first dose of a Covid vaccine – just over two months since the first jab was administered.
The Government has now offered a jab to everyone in the top four priority groups – all those over the age of 70 and the clinically extremely vulnerable.
The roll-out will now focus on the next five priority groups which include everyone over the age of 50.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock has pledged that all UK adults will be offered a Covid vaccine by autumn.
Mr Zahawi’s comments came after Boris Johnson yesterday said Brits will not have to show a vaccine passport to go to the pub in future.
Speaking during a visit to a community vaccination centre in Orpington, South East London, 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.’
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