Lucy Saddler

Coronavirus Update - 26th March 2021

A passport for the pub?

Having denied that the government would introduce vaccine passports only a few months ago, this week Boris Johnson sent the rumour mill into overdrive when he hinted that the government was indeed thinking about introducing a vaccine passport system.

In comments to a group of MPs, Boris Johnson indicated that it could be up to individual pub owners to decide if they wanted customers to have to provide a vaccine certificate or proof of a negative covid test before entering the premises.

The government has commissioned a review to look into the issue, with the results due to be published in May. Plans under consideration would allow pubs and shops that wanted to use vaccine certificates to open without social-distancing measures in place.

Premises that choose to forgo the need for a vaccine certificate or a negative covid test would need to operate using existing social-distancing rules, with table service only in pubs.

In his comments to the group of MPs, Johnson said that the concept 'should not be alien to us', using hepatitis B jabs for doctors as an example.

Johnson’s comments drew strong criticism from several prominent Tory MPs, with Steve Baker saying that the plans were a “ghastly trap” that unfairly penalised those advised not to have the vaccine such as pregnant women.

The government review on vaccine certification should be ready in May to coincide with the reopening of hospitality across the country.

Laws until September...

In other coronavirus related news this week, MPs agreed on Thursday to extend emergency Covid power until September.

Speaking in the Commons, the Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that some 'essential powers' needed to remain in order to move the country out of lockdown and into the next stage of tackling the virus.

Twelve provisions in the emergency legislation were omitted as they were deemed no longer necessary. These included easing some responsibilities on the social care sector, laws governing the retention of biometric data for health and security purposes, and obligations on businesses that work in the food supply chain.