On Monday, it was reported that the British government was considering “immunity passports”, which would give pubs, bars and restaurants the power to turn away customers who haven’t received the coronavirus vaccine. Today, however, Tory MP Michael Gove told the BBC that this will not be happening.
The story came about after Nadhim Zahawi MP, the Conservative minister in charge of the vaccine, warned that customers could be asked for proof that they’ve been vaccinated prior to entering venues and football stadiums.
Speaking to the BBC yesterday, Mr Zahawi said: “We are looking at the technology – and, of course, a way of people being able to inform their GP that they have been vaccinated. But, also, I think you’ll probably find that restaurants and bars and cinemas and other venues, sports venues, will probably also use that system – as they have done with the [test and trace] app.”
Speaking to BBC Breakfast this morning, Gove denied that this would be government policy. "Let's not get ahead of ourselves – that's not the plan,” he said. "What we want to do is to make sure that we can get vaccines effectively rolled out."
However, he did say that individual businesses will have the "capacity to make decisions about who they will admit and why", which leaves open the possibility of some kind of “immunity passport” being introduced.
UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has previously floated the idea of “immunity passports” – which would allow those who have been vaccinated or have sufficient antibodies to go about their lives as normal – but the concept has proved controversial.
The government has clarified that the vaccination will not be compulsory, but banning people from public life unless they take it would represent a form of compulsion. .
The Pfizer-BioNTech coronavirus vaccine is set to be approved for use in the UK this week, with several hospitals across the country expected to receive stocks from the 7th of December. To begin with, it will be available to frontline NHS workers only, with care home residents and the over-80s to follow.