Manawatu Standard

Vaccine passports target young

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Vaccine passports will be required by law in England for the first time, Boris Johnson said yesterday, in a bid to increase Covid vaccinatio­n uptake among the young.

The prime minister announced that everyone who wants to go to a nightclub from the end of September will have to show proof of having received two doses of a Covid vaccine.

He also said ‘‘other venues where large crowds gather’’ could also be made to adopt the checks, opening the door to their potential use at concerts, theatres and sports matches.

Johnson did not even rule out requiring them in pubs, stressing that was not his desired outcome but making it clear that it remained an option the Government could adopt.

Speaking at a virtual press conference, the prime minister, who is self-isolating at Chequers, said: ‘‘As we said last week, we do reserve the right to mandate certificat­ion at any point if it is necessary to reduce transmissi­on.

‘‘And I should serve notice now that by the end of September – when all over-18s will have had the chance to be double jabbed – we are planning to make full vaccinatio­n the condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather. Proof of a negative test will no longer be enough.’’

The announceme­nt marks a major change in position from the prime minister, who last week said companies would be left to decide whether to adopt such Covid status checks.

It is an attempt to convince younger Britons to get vaccinated amid growing alarm in Whitehall that uptake has not been as high as hoped among those aged 18 to 30.

The announceme­nt goes beyond the mandatory Covid passport scheme that was under considerat­ion by the Government for months earlier this year but was rejected two weeks ago.

That system would have allowed people to show a negative Covid test or proof of natural antibodies to gain entry. Under the new proposal, only two doses of a Covid vaccine is sufficient.

The move also sets up crunch votes in Parliament, with an unusual coalition of lockdownse­ptic Tory MPS and liberal Labour and Liberal Democrat MPS expected to oppose it amid fears that it paves the way for ID cards.

Much will depend on whether Sir Keir Starmer, the Labour leader, whips his MPS to oppose the move.

Starmer said earlier this year that Covid passports went against the ‘‘British instinct’’.

Johnson’s comments came on the day England finally went ahead with stage four of his reopening roadmap – described as ‘‘Freedom Day’’ – which saw almost all Covid restrictio­ns lifted.

On Monday morning, local time, headlines had been made by scenes of young Britons celebratin­g in nightclubs as dance floors were opened again after midnight on Sunday.

But at the press conference, Sir Patrick Vallace, the Government’s Chief Scientific Adviser, warned that such scenes could be ‘‘super-spreading events’’.

He and Jonathan Van Tam, the Deputy Chief Medical Officer, urged the public to embrace the new freedoms with caution as Johnson refused to rule out reimposing restrictio­ns.

Vallance said 60 per cent of those hospitalis­ed with Covid were double jabbed, but later corrected himself in a statement clarifying that 60 per cent of hospitalis­ed people have not been vaccinated.

Despite those concerns, Downing Street has picked the end of September as the potential starting point for the vaccine passport push given that everyone over 18 in the UK is due to be offered two jabs by the middle of that month, countering criticism of age discrimina­tion.

 ?? AP ?? Police and antivaccin­ation protesters clash during a demonstrat­ion in Parliament Square, London, yesterday after the final Covid19 legal restrictio­ns were lifted in England.
AP Police and antivaccin­ation protesters clash during a demonstrat­ion in Parliament Square, London, yesterday after the final Covid19 legal restrictio­ns were lifted in England.

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