3 min read
Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has confirmed that use of vaccine certification could extend beyond nightclubs and sporting events “according to the public health need”.
Speaking on Sky News this morning, Dowden said his approach to vaccine passports is that if it is needed “to protect public health” he will support introducing and enforcing them.
“My overall approach to certification – and that of the Prime Minister’s and rest of the government – is that we want as few restrictions for as short a period as possible,” Dowden told Sky News.
“But if we need them to protect public health, we will,” he added.
“We will be bringing in certification for nightclubs towards the end of the month. We continue to engage with other sporting and culture venues, for example most Premier League matches you go to will have some kind of certification already.
“Lots of venues are proceeding with it on a voluntary basis but if there is a need to further extend that certification according to public health need we will look at doing so.”
The government supported several pilot events in April and May this year to explore whether checking Covid status could be used to prevent outbreaks.
Attendees of the events — which included the FA Cup final and the World Snooker Championship — were required to show a negative Covid test or proof of full vaccination.
But Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi confirmed on Sunday that producing a negative test result will soon no longer be enough to gain access to stadiums, nightclubs and other large venues with poor ventilation.
Dowden reiterated that the government is “always reluctant to impose further burdens on businesses unless we really have to”.
The Culture Secretary also confirmed this morning that an announcement on Covid-19 booster jabs will be made soon, with government currently awaiting “final advice” from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).
Currently, people aged 12 and over who have “severely suppressed immune systems” are able to get a third dose of the Covid-19 vaccine.
However, it is widely tipped that this group will extend as soon as next week to include those with ess severe underlying health conditions, as well as the elderly population.
Evidence outlining the benefits of third jabs was reportedly handed to JCVI yesterday.
“For the immunosuppressed we’ve already started on the third vaccine for them,” Dowden said.
“We will start the booster programme later in September, we’re just awaiting the final JCVI advice on who exactly will be getting that booster and the exact criteria,” he added.
Data from countries that have begun rolling out third doses of vaccines, including Israel, show that booster jabs significantly lower risks of infection.
But some organisations have called for vulnerable people and health practitioners in the global south to be prioritised for a vaccine above healthy British adults receiving a third jab.
Major humanitarian charities including Oxfam have expressed disappointment with Britain’s contribution towards global vaccine efforts and feel that prioritising healthy adults with further doses above vulnerable people in the developing world would just be a further kick in the teeth.
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