10 Sep COVID-19: Extension to use of vaccine passports will be looked at if there is a ‘public health need’, Oliver Dowden says | UK News
The government will look at extending the use of vaccine passports if there is a “public health need” to do so, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has said.
Mr Dowden told Sky News the government “want as few restrictions for as short a period as possible”, but that if the situation with coronavirus worsens, ministers will consider requiring vaccine certification to attend more venues to “protect” the public.
The culture secretary did, however, emphasise that the government is “always reluctant to impose further burdens on businesses unless we really have to”.
It comes a day after Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that vaccine passports will be introduced in Scotland for entry into venues with large crowds from 1 October.
COVID-19 certification will be required to enter events such as nightclubs, music festivals and some football grounds, Ms Sturgeon said.
MSPs in Holyrood voted by 68 to 55 in favour of the measure which will be introduced from 1 October after all Scottish adults have had the opportunity to receive both COVID-19 vaccines, with two weeks having passed to allow the vaccine to take effect.
Asked whether the UK will be implementing the same measure, Mr Dowden told Sky News: “Well my overall approach to certification – and the prime minister’s and the rest of the government’s – is, in relation to any restrictions, we want as few restrictions for as short a period as possible.
“But if we need them to protect public health, we will.
“That is why we have said in relation to very high-risk venues – and a nightclub is an example of that, you have got lots of people mingling very closely to each other, often poor ventilation – we will be looking at bringing in certification for the nightclubs towards the end of the month.”
Mr Dowden added that the government “continue to engage with other sporting and culture venues”, adding: “If there is a need to further extend that certification according to the public health need we will look at doing so.
“But we are always reluctant to impose further burdens on businesses unless we really have to.”
On Thursday, the Scottish government said there are currently no plans to introduce certification for the wider hospitality industry, but that this will be kept under review over the autumn and winter.
Scotland’s Health Secretary Humza Yousaf said he hopes the scheme will incentivise as many people as possible to get vaccinated, especially in the younger age cohort.
Mr Dowden emphasised that in England, the measure would only be brought in for “high-risk venues”.
Last week, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi confirmed to Sky News vaccine passports are going to be introduced at big venues in England to avoid winter closures.
Speaking to Trevor Phillips on Sunday, Mr Zahawi said the government wanted to avoid a situation where businesses continually had to open and close their doors at short notice.
Asked whether vaccine passports would be introduced in England, the vaccines minister said: “We are looking at, by the end of September when everyone has had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated, for the large venues, venues that could end up causing a real spike in infections, where we need to use the certification process.
“If you look at what the FA has done, they’ve done so brilliantly in terms of checking vaccine status to reopen football.
“That is the sort of right thing to do and we are absolutely on track to continue to make sure that we do that.”
He added: “There’s a reason for that… the reason being is that, I, as does the prime minister, want to make sure the whole economy remains open.
“The worst thing we can do for those venues is to have a sort of open-shut-open-shut strategy because we see infection rates rise because of the close interaction of people, that’s how the virus spreads, if people are in close spaces in large numbers we see spikes appearing.
“The best thing to do then is to work with the industry to make sure that they can open safely and sustainably in the long term, and the best way to do that is to check vaccine status.”
Mr Zahawi also vowed to do “everything in my power” to avoid another lockdown.