Restaurants, bars and cinemas can turn away customers if they haven’t had a Covid bite, the new minister for mass vaccine deployment has suggested tonight.
Nadhim Zahawi said that while an injection would be voluntary, some sites – including sports fields – may require proof in exchange for entry clearance.
The minister said individuals would have to decide for themselves, but would receive the “strong message” that the beatings were good for their families, their communities and their country.
Airlines have already considered the idea of applying for “immunity passports” as a condition of flight.
Restaurants, bars and cinemas may turn away customers if they haven’t had a Covid shot, the new minister for mass vaccine rollout suggested tonight
Some experts expressed concern this evening about such schemes and expressed concerns about data privacy and human rights.
The UK has ordered early access to 357 million doses of seven coronavirus vaccines. And during a visit to a pharmaceutical company yesterday, Boris Johnson said it was possible that one of the jabs would be available “in a few weeks”.
The looming prospect of a huge vaccination campaign raises the question of whether those who wait for a vaccine – or refuse to have one – will have fewer freedoms than those with protection. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said last night: “For a long time we have been looking at the issues Mr Zahawi was talking about and the question of the impact on the individual in terms of what he can do. “
MEPs will deliver their verdict today on the Prime Minister’s new levels of coronavirus. Although plans are likely to pass, Mr Johnson is facing an uprising from angry Tories over the strict restrictions.
In other developments:
- The ministers finally published a health and economic assessment of Covid and the tiered approach;
- Rishi Sunak was about to announce tens of millions of pounds in additional grants for pubs crippled by the restrictions;
- An argument has arisen over whether a Scottish egg counts as a “substantial meal” to allow level two drinkers to order a pint;
- Environment Secretary George Eustice has suggested the British might consider another six months of curbs;
- Data showed hospital admissions are declining, with Mr Hancock saying the outbreak was ‘back under control’;
- Local authorities in level three zones, the highest level of restrictions, may request a new six-week community coronavirus testing campaign;
- Confusion reigned over nursing homes after ministers urged families not to bring loved ones home for Christmas – but said it was not against the law;
- Pubs in Wales will be banned from selling alcohol and forced to close early despite the ‘firewall’ lockdown;
- Stores could open for 24 hours under plans to help them recover;
- A poll suggested that members of the Conservative Party were frustrated by the lack of data on the impact of lockdowns.
In his first interview since becoming Minister of Covid Vaccine Deployment, Mr Zahawi was asked yesterday about the inclusion of immunity passports and vaccine status in the NHS Covid app.
Referring to the vaccine, Mr Zahawi told BBC Radio 4: “It is right that it is voluntary. But the very strong message you will see is how we bring the whole country back to normal, and so it’s good for your family, it’s good for your community, it’s good for your country.
On immunity passports, he continued: “You will likely find restaurants, bars, cinemas and other places – sports venues – will probably also use this system as they did with the app. The reason the app has been so successful is that a lot of places you would go, they have the NHS QR code that you scan for your own safety.
Nadhim Zahawi said that while an injection would be voluntary, some sites – including sports fields – might require proof in exchange for an entry permit. Zahawi is shown in this file image above
He suggested that service providers say, “Look, show us you’ve been vaccinated”.
But government adviser Professor Robert Dingwall of Nottingham Trent University, speaking in his personal capacity, said: “The idea of vaccine passports has generally been condemned by bioethicists, and there are concerns about the medical confidentiality and a long history of abuse of this type of measures.
“There was no need for the Minister to discuss the possibility of companies applying for vaccine status even before vaccines were available to those who wanted them. This can end up feeding the anti-vaxxers.
Dr Ana Beduschi, University of Exeter Law School, said health passports pose “critical issues for the protection of data privacy and human rights”.
A government spokesperson said last night: “We have no intention of introducing certificates of immunity. Our priority is to make sure we can deploy vaccines quickly if they pass critical security checks.