BORIS Johnson faces a backlash over plans for vaccine passports for the pub today – ahead of a crunch vote over extending Covid laws until September.
The PM’s comments last night that pubs may be able to decide whether to let customers in with a test have sparked fury among MPs and the hospitality trade.
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Politicians say it will be discriminatory and create a two tier system.
And pub bosses are worried it will hamper their recovery after months shut up due to the virus.
Trade body UKHospitality criticised the prospect of pubs and restaurants being subject to vaccine certificates as “simply unworkable” and said it could cause conflict between staff and customers.
The boss of the Shepherd Neame chain said on Thursday that making jabs mandatory for entry to pubs is a “fairly poorly thought out idea”.
No10 stressed last night people would be able to give a negative Covid test as well as a vaccine stamp.
It was reported last night that pubs which can show negative tests or a vaccine may be able to scrap social distancing laws altogether.
Several reviews into vaccine passports and whether they are ethical are due back ahead of more unlocking in May or June.
It comes as:
- Britain’s jabs roll-out has saved 6,600 lives since it launched, Matt Hancock said
- Over-50s have been urged to book their jabs now
- EU leaders gear up for an emergency summit on vaccines where export bans could be introduced
- But last night Brussels backed down from threats and said it wanted a “win win” scenario to increase supplies across both nations
- Boris Johnson warned that a “blockade” on vaccines could result in “long-term” damage but said he continued to work with his European partners
- The PM has warned ‘things are looking difficult on the continent’ in a holiday blow for Brits
MPs will today be asked to rubber stamp the regulations for the route out of lockdown – which will end in June when it’s hoped all restrictions can be lifted.
Those will be reviewed every 35 days as part of the PM’s plans – and could be altered later down the line if things go well, or take a turn for the worse.
And MPs will also extend the emergency powers in the Coronavirus Act – which will stay in place until September.
The votes are set to pass because Labour will back them, but the PM faces a dozen furious rebels who are set to defy him.
MP Mark Harper said this morning: “It discriminates against people that either can’t be vaccinated, for example, pregnant women, or younger people who at the back of the queue who won’t be vaccinated for some time, and also potentially discriminates against people from those groups, where we know there’s a significant amount of vaccine hesitancy.
“But also, I don’t understand the logic of it once you’ve vaccinated those in the community who are most vulnerable from COVID and we’ve got high take up and you’ve got herd immunity. I don’t understand the logic for this at all…
“If you have to prove your vaccine status to do normal everyday things like going to the pub or going shopping you are effectively making vaccination compulsory which is not something we have ever done in this country and the government says it is against.”
Steve Baker, deputy chairman of the Covid Recovery Group said the vote was a “rare opportunity” for MPs to “say no to a new way of life in a checkpoint society”.
The vote is expected at around 5pm – and will rubber stamp large £5,000 fines for people in England and Wales if they travel without a valid reason.
The PM’s comments on vaccine passports contradict previous remarks where he said he did NOT think vaccine passports were suitable for the pub.
Children’s minister Vicky Ford, told Sky News this morning: “When we set out the road map way back in February to show us the way out of this lockdown, one of the things we said was that there would be reviews of different situations and there was always in that road map a review of the certifications (of having received a vaccine) and use of testing.
“And that review – which looks at how you would use vaccines, how you would use testing to keep settings safe when we go to that widest reopening – that is due before the fourth stage of the lockdown, so it has always been very clear we would be looking at all the different measures in order to take that really widest step.”