No answers after ‘empty’ vaccine passport statement

By Emily Hawkins contact

- Last updated on GMT

Empty statement: the pub trade was left disappointed after a minister's update on vaccine passports failed to rule out use in pubs (image: twinsterphoto)
Empty statement: the pub trade was left disappointed after a minister's update on vaccine passports failed to rule out use in pubs (image: twinsterphoto)

Related tags: Legislation, Health and safety

The pub sector has been once more left without clarity after a minister updated MPs on the review into vaccine passports, one trade organisation has said.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove made a written ministerial statement to MPs on the review into the role of Covid-status certification in reopening society.

A scheme could see pubs required to ask customers to prove vaccination, antibodies from a recent coronavirus infection or a negative test result in order to slash social distancing rules.

Although several newspapers reported recently officials have decided to move away from considering Covid checks for hospitality, Gove’s statement did not allude to this.

'Never in supermarkets'

Instead, the minister reiterated that such a system would not be enforced during the present stage of lockdown easing (step two) or at the next step when indoor hospitality is set to reopen from Monday 17 May. 

The Government will set out the conclusions of the review ahead of step four of the lockdown roadmap, which is earmarked for Monday 21 June and would see all legal limits on social contact lifted. 

There were 52,450 responses to a public call for evidence issued on 15 March 2021, Gove said.

He confirmed some settings including “essential public services, public transport and essential shops” would “never” require Covid-status certification to allow “access for all.”

Gove said: “The Government will continue to explore the equity and ethical concerns about any form of Covid-status certification.”

Chief executive of the British Beer & Pub Association, Emma McClarkin said businesses needed certain “now more than ever” as the indoor reopening date for hospitality approached.

She said: “This empty statement gives our sector no long term clarity on whether it will be affected by Covid-status certificates or not.

Rule them out

“If the Government is not looking to impose Covid-status certification on pubs, then it should simply come forward and rule them out now. Publicans have already faced enough stress and uncertainty as it is without having to worry about these unnecessary and unworkable passports.”

The minister said he had led six roundtables on the proposals including with representatives from the hospitality sector and planned to host further roundtables.

Gove also visited Israel to experience its Green Pass system where he met with officials and also spoke to business operators including a nightclub operator.

The Guardian​ echoed reports in The Daily Mail​ that the Government would not introduce vaccine passports in pubs.

The newspaper quoted a Whitehall source as saying officials had chosen to focus on "higher-risk settings that are not open and big events” and move away from considering a passport system in smaller spaces like pubs.

There is to be another update next month.

Related topics: Health & safety

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