Government officials are seeking opinions from businesses on the plans that will be rolled out at ‘short notice’ if NHS comes under ‘unsustainable pressure’
Image: Getty Images)
Vaccine passports may be required at all nightclubs and large events if Covid cases spiral out of control in the coming winter months.
Boris Johnson’s “Plan A” to keep the virus contained includes booster jabs for the over-50s and other vulnerable groups, offering a first dose to 12 to 15-year-olds and advice to wear masks in enclosed spaces.
But under “plan B” – which could be triggered at just a week’s notice – masks would become mandatory in certain settings, and vaccine passports would be made a legal requirement for places like nightclubs, outdoor festivals and football matches.
Covid passports were previously expected to be required in nightclubs by the end of this month – essentially, as part of Plan A. But Health Secretary Sajid Javid made a dramatic U-turn after a Tory revolt, and relegated them to Plan B.
Now officials have formally rolled out their proposals for this contingency measure to be made mandatory if the NHS comes under “unsustainable pressure”.
Here are the full details.
All the venues included
The events that may be required to roll out the scheme include all nightclubs, and other venues open after 1am with alcohol, music, and dancing. They also include:
Indoor, crowded settings with 500 or more attendees where those attendees are likely to be in close proximity to people from other households, such as music venues or large receptions.
Outdoor, crowded settings with 4,000 or more attendees where those attendees are likely to be in close proximity to people from other households, such as outdoor festivals.
Any settings with 10,000 or more attendees, such as large sports and music stadia.
These venues could be broadened or narrows in response to the consultation.
Venues that are exempt
Venues that are exempt from requiring a vaccine passport, even if they meet the above criteria, include:
Are staff included?
We don’t know yet for sure. This is one of the open questions posed in the government consultation.
But the government has suggested it will include all staff over 18.
What if I don’t have a vaccine?
Under the proposals, all adults will need to have been double-jabbed – in other words, had their second dose at least 14 days ago – to visit affected venues.
There would not be an option to take a test instead if you’ve not had the vaccine.
However, the rules could be different for staff. Under the proposals, staff would be allowed to either be double-jabbed or get tested regularly.
This is to avoid them losing their job if they’ve not had the vaccine, which is a whole different can of worms for the government.
POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
What happens next?
The Government is asking for views from businesses, event organisers, and venue operators on its proposals by October 12.
Labour has slammed Health Secretary Sajid Javid’s mixed messages on Covid passports.
Deputy leader Angela Rayner said: “The government’s approach to Covid passports has been shambolic from the start.
“There has never been any clarity from ministers about what vaccine passports were supposed to achieve, how they would work and what was expected from businesses and workers.”
Health Minister Maggie Throup said: “Our Autumn and Winter plan puts us on a sure footing and gives the whole country the best possible chance of living with COVID-19 in the months ahead, without the need for unwanted social and economic restrictions.
“The vaccine programme has tilted the odds in our favour in our shared fight against this virus and while we are totally confident the careful steps we are taking will help rule out the need for mandatory vaccine certificates, we need to be prepared for all scenarios.”
POOL/AFP via Getty Images)
Brits have already been braced for a difficult winter as respiratory viruses including Covid and the flu thrive in the cold seasons.
Even though more than 44 million adults have had both of their Covid jabs, which counts for 82% of over-16s, people are still at risk of catching the virus and transmitting it.
Chris Whitty said earlier this month anybody who believes that “the big risk of Covid is all in the past has not understood where we’re going”.