VACCINE passports could be introduced in pubs if Britain finds itself battling new Covid variants, a minister said today.
Skills minister Gillian Keegan said No 10 would have to “take action” if dangerous new strains are imported through international travel.
She also confirmed that Boris Johnson is looking at widening the use of compulsory beyond nightclubs to other large, indoor events.
But at the same time she said ministers are encouraging companies to “ramp up” the return of millions of workers to offices this summer.
Ms Keegan said the use of vaccine passports in pubs isn’t under “consideration at the moment” but warned that could change.
But she added: “Of course we take this virus as we find it, we are trying always to get ahead of it.
“The vaccine programmes been massively successful but we do always have to look at what’s happening.
“If we have a Beta variant, or any other variants which we’re trying to minimise the risk of through our cautious approach to travel, then of course we’ll have to take action.”
Extra travel restrictions have been slapped on France to try and stop the Beta variant, first identified in South Africa, from taking hold here.
The strain of the virus, which is thought to be more resistant to vaccines, has also been surging in Spain over recent weeks.
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Ms Keegan defended the move to make Covid passes compulsory for entering nightclubs from the end of September.
She said the action is necessary because it is “impossible” for such venues to put in place safety measures.
And she added that ministers are looking at extending the measure to “other” settings “where there’s lots of lots of crowds of people”.
She said such events would include “maybe a large venue where there’s lots of people and it’s indoors” such as theatre performances.
The PM is pressing ahead with plans to introduce vaccine passports domestically despite a huge rebellion amongst Tory MPs.
More than 50 backbenchers are set to vote against the Government when it brings forward legislation for Covid papers in nightclubs.
They point to the success of the vaccination drive and the fact cases have fallen since Freedom Day last month.
Mark Harper, head of the Covid Recovery Group of MPs, said so few people are un-jabbed that vaccine passports are “a sledgehammer to crack a nut”.
Ms Keegan said the latest data is “very, very promising” and has allowed people to look forward “with hope”.
But she warned: “We’ve seen how this virus can turn at several points.”