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Sajid Javid has confirmed that vaccine passports will not be mandated in nightclubs or any other large venues across the UK.
Speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show this morning, the Health Secretary said that “if we do [introduce vaccine passports], it has to be done with no alternative”.
Minutes later Javid then confirmed “we will not be going ahead with plans for vaccine passports”.
The U-turn follows a week in which Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi repeatedly confirmed certification checks will be implemented in nightclubs and large events by the end of the month.
“I think it’s fair to say most people probably instinctively don’t like the idea,” Javid told Marr.
“I’ve never liked the idea of saying to people ‘you must show your papers’ to do what is just an everyday activity. But we were right to properly look at it and look at the evidence,” he added.
“What I can say is that we’ve looked at it properly and whilst we should keep it in reserve as a potential option, I’m pleased to say that we will not be going ahead with plans for vaccine passports.”
As well as discussing vaccine passports, Javid said this morning that he is “not anticipating any more lockdowns”.
However, the Health Secretary caveated that “we need to prepare” for them, nonetheless.
“Covid-19 and other viruses like the autumn and winter. That’s why later this week the Prime Minister will be setting out our plans to manage Covid and other health threats during the winter. What we’ll make clear is that our first line of defence remains the vaccine programme,” Javid said.
More than 80% of Britons aged 16 and over have now had two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine.
The Health Secretary added: “Alongside vaccines we have huge testing infrastructure – this huge juggernaut of a machine providing tests up and down the country. We’ve also got new treatments that we didn’t have last winter and a surveillance system that’s the envy of the world.”
In other Covid-19 developments, the Prime Minister plans to repeal a range of significant powers enshrined in the Coronavirus Act this week.
Boris Johnson is set to announce that government will no longer have the authority to shut down the economy, impose restrictions on events and gatherings, temporarily close or restrict access to schools and detain infectious people.
Powers in the Coronavirus Act that are considered “critical to protect and support the public” will be maintained.
These include enforcing those who test positive for Covid-19 to isolate, assisting the NHS to acquire emergency resources, mandating schools to stay open if they are shutting against government advice and providing sick pay to those isolating from their first day at home rather than the seventh.
Responding to government plans to withdraw certain powers from the Act, Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth told Sky News’ Trevor Phillips: “At first sight based on the briefing, the clauses which are going to be taken off the statute book look like a reasonable approach to me.
“Obviously we will want to study the detail when it comes to Parliament because there have been huge concerns about the way in which the Coronavirus Act has been misused by the authorities. Ridiculous fines have been imposed on people when they are sitting on park benches and so on. That’s not what this legislation was aimed at.”
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