Pubs and restaurants may be allowed to drop social distancing rules earlier if they introduce vaccine passports – in a move that could see them brought in by the back door.
So-called ‘Covid-certification’ will be required to enter theatres, stadiums and nightclubs this summer, under plans being drawn up by ministers.
MPs are to get a vote on the passport issue, it was reported last night, opening up the possibility of a Government defeat in the Commons.
Ministers have ruled out making the passports compulsory in hospitality venues. But, raising the prospect of Covid passports brought in by stealth, a Government source told the Mail that those who do accept them could reap earlier benefits
Michael Gove was said to have made the promise to those uneasy with the plans, with one source telling the Daily Telegraph: ‘Michael made a very clear statement with MPs that there would be debates and votes before anything like this came into force.’
Those against the proposal include at least 40 Tories, which would be enough to wipe out the Government’s majority.
However, Boris Johnson will give the green light today for further work on schemes that require people to show they are at low risk of harbouring the virus.
Government sources said the ‘focus’ would be on enabling certain businesses to reopen without the need for social distancing rules that would make them economically unviable.
Ministers have ruled out making the passports compulsory in hospitality venues.
But, raising the prospect of Covid passports brought in by stealth, a Government source told the Mail that those who do accept them could reap earlier benefits.
‘The focus is on high risk settings like large events and nightclubs that may not be able to operate commercially with social distancing,’ the source said.
Mr Gove said some form of certification was ‘an inevitability for international travel’. And he said it could also prove ‘a valuable aid to opening our economy and society faster’ [File photo]
‘But we are not going to rule it out for hospitality at this stage. It will all depend how far we can get on lifting social distancing.
‘It may be that some businesses will want to introduce schemes of this sort in order to operate without social distancing. Our role is to make sure that is done fairly.’
Mr Gove, who is leading the review of vaccine passports, yesterday ruled out introducing schemes for ‘essential services’, such as supermarkets, GP surgeries, chemists and public transport.
Mr Gove, who is leading the review of vaccine passports, yesterday ruled out introducing schemes for ‘essential services’, such as supermarkets, GP surgeries, chemists and public transport
But he said some form of certification was ‘an inevitability for international travel’. And he said it could also prove ‘a valuable aid to opening our economy and society faster’.
Mr Gove said any scheme would be ‘proportionate and time-limited’, with restrictions likely to last for less than a year.
But former Cabinet minister David Davis yesterday branded the scheme ‘un-British’. He told LBC radio: ‘We are not used to presenting papers – or the electronic equivalent – to go to the pub or to go to a football match. That is not what we think of our freedoms.’
Graham Brady, chairman of the 1922 Committee of backbench Tory MPs, said last night: ‘As we plan for the peace, we should be vigilant in defence of liberty. Where the state has reached too far into our lives, we should kick it out.’
Christopher Snowden, of the free market Institute of Economic Affairs, added: ‘It’s a stupid, unnecessary, wasteful idea from people who don’t live in the real world.’
The Government yesterday confirmed it will press ahead with a series of pilot schemes this month aimed at enabling larger audiences for live events, both indoors and outside. The trials will begin next week, with an audience of 300 at a Liverpool comedy club.
Major sports events will be trialled, including the world snooker championships in Sheffield and a crowd of 8,000 people for the League Cup final at Wembley.
Nightclubs and outdoor cinemas will be tried out in Liverpool. The trials will involve increased testing and improved ventilation.
Ministers hope an updated NHS app will be ready to test vaccine passports at the FA Cup final on May 15 with a crowd of 21,000.
Sports minister Nigel Huddleston said the trials were intended to be a ‘learning experience’.
IT firm Netcompany, awarded a £3million contract for a passport app, said its technology was ‘an efficient, secure and scalable solution’.