Vaccine passport trial imminent as MPs rebel
Limited numbers may be allowed back into events (pic: SNS Group)
Theatres and stadiums could take part in a vaccine passport trial as early as next month amid growing opposition to the idea among MPs.
If approved the passports are likely to extended across the hospitality and leisure sector, including pubs, restaurants, nightclubs and cinemas.
Work is under way on an updated version of the NHS Covid app which will enable users to prove they have been vaccinated.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to back the idea when he announces the interim results of a study led by Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove on Monday.
However, a growing lobby against the idea is growing in the Commons. Last night 72 MPs – including former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn – issued a joint statement branding vaccine passports “divisive and discriminatory” and vowing to oppose them.
They have been supported by campaign groups Big Brother Watch, Liberty, the Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) and Privacy International.
Their pledge states: “We oppose the divisive and discriminatory use of COVID status certification to deny individuals access to general services, businesses or jobs.”
But the PM seems resolute in the need for passports which he sees as a way of reassuring the public and businesses that hospitality and leisure venues can be reopened safely and that the travel industry can restart.
Mr Johnson said: “There’s definitely going to be a world in which international travel will use vaccine passports.
“When it comes to trying to make sure that we give maximum confidence to businesses and customers in the UK, there are three things – there’s immunity, whether you have had it before so you have natural antibodies, whether you have been vaccinated, and of course whether you have had a test.
“hose three things working together will be useful for us as we go forward.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said he would study any Government proposals but warned his party could oppose the plan he described as ‘un-British’ and ‘against the British instinct’. Those in the Commons said to be concerned include 40 Conservatives, 20 in Labour and 10 Liberal Democrats.
It has been reported that the FA Cup final, an FA Cup semi-final, the League Cup final and the World Snooker Championships as well as the Brit Awards could see the return of limited crowds.
Attendees will have to take a Covid test and another after the event to register any infections.
Judicial review proceedings have begun over the UK Government’s decision to delay the opening of indoor hospitality for five weeks after “non-essential” retail opens on 12 April.
The Government has rejected Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), refusing to meet the claimants, giving them “no choice but to litigate.”
Hugh Osmond, founder of Punch Taverns, former director of Pizza Express, and director of Various Eateries, said: “Earlier this month, Sacha Lord and I wrote to the Government, outlining our concern that the hospitality roadmap was based on prejudice rather than evidence.
“Given the huge implications lockdowns, restrictions and business closures have on the over three million people who work in our industry and the tens of thousands of businesses, suppliers, landlords and contractors, we were hoping for a conversation with ministers and officials to find some sort of resolution.
“We were and remain keen to work with the Government to seek to resolve these issues outside litigation, yet we’ve been told that even a meeting would not be ‘fruitful’, even though the Judicial Review process urges parties to meet to attempt to avoid court.
“The Chancellor himself, in defending the Government’s Eat Out to Help Out Scheme said analysis of PHE data had revealed ‘a very small percentage’ of the causes of transmission were hospitality settings, warned of a ‘big difference between correlation and causation’, and cautioned against us ‘jumping to simplistic conclusions.’ And yet the Government’s opening programme has done just that.”