Ministers are considering introducing ‘immunity passports’ for when the vaccine is rolled out (Picture: Getty)
Pubs, restaurants and cinemas may be given the powers to turn away customers if they have not had a coronavirus jab, a minister has suggested.
Nadhim Zahawi, the minister in charge of the vaccine rollout, warned businesses and football stadiums could ask customers for proof that they have been vaccinated on entry in a similar way QR codes are currently used.
The minister said although it would not be compulsory to have the jab, officials are looking into introducing so-called ‘immunity passports’ through the NHS to keep track of those who have had the injection.
When asked about the possibility of the passports, 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.
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‘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.
‘I think that in many ways, the pressure will come from both ways, from service providers who’ll say, “Look, demonstrate to us that you have been vaccinated”.
‘But, also, we will make the technology as easy and accessible as possible.’
Immunity passports have been considered a key part in effort to return to normal life, allowing the public to freely mingle in public and private places without restrictions.
But concerns have been raised that people who choose not to have the vaccine could unfairly face severe restrictions.
Mr Zahawi said: ‘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 app.’
His comments come as the vaccine is expected to be approved this week, while hospitals in England are said to have been told to receive doses within 10 days.
People could be asked for proof of their vaccination in pubs and restaurants, the minister said (Picture: AFP)
With the jab expected to be rolled out to the most vulnerable within days, the Government is in talks with celebrities to help promote the vaccine in a bid to drown out anti-vax conspiracy theories online.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock addressed Mr Zahawi’s comments in a Downing Street press briefing tonight. He told the nation that the virus is ‘under control’ but urged people to get tested as he warned asymptomatic people are a ‘silent danger’.
Mr Hancock said: ‘For a long time now we’ve been looking at the questions that minister Zahawi was talking about and the question of what’s the impact on the individual in terms of what they can do.’
But he insisted: ‘Firstly, we do not plan to mandate the vaccine.
‘We think that by encouraging the uptake of the vaccine, we will get a very high proportion of people in this country to take up the vaccine, because of course it protects you but it also helps to protect your loved ones and your community.’
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