Introducing vaccine passports for large venues is the “right thing to do” to ensure the whole economy remains open, a Cabinet minister has said.
Downing Street confirmed the Government intends to press on with plans to introduce vaccine passports for nightclubs, an idea which has previously been met with criticism from MPs in both parties.
Industry figures also believe vaccine passports could lead to a spike in house parties and embroil clubs in discrimination cases.
The scheme would see members of the public required to show proof they have had two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine in order to gain entry to clubs and other large-scale events.
Asked if he has made up his mind about vaccine passports, vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi told Sky’s Trevor Phillips on Sunday: “We are looking at, by the end of September when everyone has had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated, for the large venues, venues that could end up causing a real spike in infections, where we need to use the certification process.
“If you look at what the FA have done, they’ve done so brilliantly in terms of checking vaccine status to reopen football.
“That is the sort of right thing to do and we are absolutely on track to continue to make sure that we do that.
“There’s a reason for that … the reason being is that, I, as does the Prime Minister, want to make sure the whole economy remains open.
“The worst thing we can do for those venues is to have a sort of open-shut-open-shut strategy because we see infection rates rise because of the close interaction of people, that’s how the virus spreads, if people are in close spaces in large numbers we see spikes appearing.
“The best thing to do then is to work with the industry to make sure that they can open safely and sustainably in the long term, and the best way to do that is to check vaccine status.”
Mr Zahawi said he will do “everything in my power” to avoid another lockdown and is focused on making sure the booster programme is delivered.
He said: “Nobody enjoys, by the way, in this government, certainly not this Prime Minister, having restrictions on people’s freedoms.
“It goes against the DNA of this government to do that.”
Meanwhile, Scottish Labour is to oppose the Scottish Government’s vaccine passport plans for nightclubs and large events.
MSPs are due to vote on Nicola Sturgeon’s vaccine certification proposals next week, with the Liberal Democrats also expected to oppose them.
Earlier this week, the First Minister said she wanted to introduce the scheme “quickly” in response to surging Covid-19 infections, warning they could rise to 10,000 a day.
Ministers said the recent spike in cases means the scheme is needed in order to prevent more widespread restrictions.
From Friday, Scots have been able to download a QR code of proof of vaccination and a mobile app is planned for later this month.
Ms Sturgeon has said all of her Government will be bound by collective responsibility to back the plans.
In Wales, First Minister Mark Drakeford last month said there were “no plans” to introduce mandatory vaccination certificates for venues due to “ethical and equality considerations”.
Stormont ministers have yet to reach an official position on using vaccine access passports within Northern Ireland.