Boris Johnson said the UK government will undertake a review into whether vaccine passports are a practical way to speed up the UK’s exit from lockdown.
The prime minister said there were deep and complex issues relating to the use of Covid-status certificates and whether they should be used to allow entry into venues such as night clubs and theatres.
The review will look both at whether it is possible to introduce a system or even if such certificates should be allowed at all.
“This is an area where we’re looking at a novelty for our country,” he said during a visit to a school in South London on Tuesday.
“We haven’t had stuff like this before, we’ve never thought in terms of having something that you have to show to go to a pub or theatre.
“So there are deep and complex issues that we need to explore, ethical issues about what the role is for government in mandating people to have such a thing or, indeed, banning people from doing such a thing.”
“We can’t be discriminatory against people who, for whatever reason, can’t have the vaccine.”
Michael Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, will lead the review said Johnson and report back before 21 June, when the government hopes to be able to lift restrictions on nightclubs and other venues re-opening.
Hospitality groups had already expressed dismay about not being able to open until April and then only in a very limited way before the PM spoke today.
“A major package of financial support is imperative if hospitality is to survive,” said Kate Nicholls, chief executive of trade body UKHospitality.
“This delay in reopening will make the job of survival all the more difficult for businesses only just clinging onto existence.
“It is much more than just an inconvenience for many employers in our sector, it is another delay that they cannot afford and, for too many, will not be able to survive… The job for the government now is to make sure that our sector survives this further period of closure intact.”
Johnson was more certain on the use of vaccine passports for air travel, another sector hammered by the pandemic, saying their introduction here was more likely.
“When you look at the international side of things, international travel, there’s no question that’s where a lot of people, a lot of countries will be going,” he said.