VACCINE passports will not be forced on Brits across the UK to let them go to the pub – but pubs could decide to introduce it themselves, Michael Gove said this morning.
The Cabinet Office minister slapped down suggestions from the vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi that restaurants, cinemas and other venues could be asked to check if their customers have had the Covid jab.
But Mr Gove said businesses could decide to enforce a Covid immunity passport.
Speaking to BBC Breakfast, he said: “It’s up to any individual pub owner or licensee to decide who they will admit, and on what basis. They’re private businesses.”
Mr Gove said the Government’s priority was ensuring the UK is “in a position to deliver a vaccine”.
“The prospect of a vaccine is an exit strategy, the most important thing is that it’s effectively distributed and available.”
His comments come after the newly-appointed vaccine minister Mr Zahawi said the Government was “looking at the technology” when asked about plans for immunity passports.
Test and Trace boss Dido Harding has suggested vaccination record could be kept on a Government app, allowing people to prove they’ve had the jap.
Mr Zahawi told the BBC: “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.”
Mr Zahawi said there will be pressure from businesses who will ask people to prove they have been vaccinated.
“We will make the technology as easy and accessible as possible. I think people have to make a decision.
“But I think you’ll probably find many service providers will want to engage with this in the way they did with the (Test and Trace) app.”
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said ministers would be looking at “the question” of how businesses will monitor who has been vaccinated.
But he cautioned that they were not yet sure the jab protected people from passing on the virus – even if it did stop them becoming symptomatic.
Australian airline Qantas has already said they will only accept passengers who have been vaccinated once a jab is rolled out.
Chief exec Alan Joyce said he expected a requirement to be vaccinated would be a “common thing” for airlines across the globe.