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Nadhim Zahawi Says Vaccine Passports Are The Best Way To Keep Large Venues Open In Winter

The government supported several pilot events in April and May this year to explore whether checking Covid status could be used to prevent outbreaks (Alamy)

3 min read

Nadhim Zahawi has said introducing a vaccine passport scheme for all large venues is “the right thing to do” to avoid further coronavirus restrictions this winter.

The vaccines minister told Sky News that the plans would be brought in from the end of September “when everyone has had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated”.

“If you look at what the FA have done, they've done so brilliantly in terms of checking vaccine status to reopen football, that is the right thing to do and we are absolutely on track to continue to make sure that we do,” Zahawi said.

He added that “the worst thing we can do for those venues” is forcing them to repeatedly open and shut due to further lockdowns. 

“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.”

The government supported several pilot events in April and May this year to explore whether checking Covid status could be used to prevent outbreaks.

Attendees of the events — which included the FA Cup final and the World Snooker Championship — were required to show a negative Covid test or proof of full vaccination.

But Zahawi confirmed on Sunday that producing a negative test result will soon no longer be enough to gain access to stadiums and other large venues.

The Prime Minister also announced in July that nightclub goers would need to produce proof of vaccination upon entry from the end of September — a move which has garnered criticism among his own MPs.

Members of the lockdown-sceptic Covid Recovery group — which consists of 43 Conservative MPs — signed a letter to Boris Johnson in August calling the proposals a “serious infringement on people’s liberties”.

Ministers, however, are set to press ahead with plans for vaccine passports for clubbers, with a Downing Street spokesperson claiming earlier this week that the government “will be coming forward in the coming weeks with detail for that”.

Elsewhere on Sunday, Zahawi was also forced to defend the government’s decision to seek “further advice” from the UK’s Chief Medical Officers over whether to offer all 12 to 15-year-olds the vaccine. 

It comes after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) confirmed this week it will not recommend healthy children aged 12-15 receive a Covid-19 vaccine.

Following the announcement, health secretary Sajid Javid wrote to medical advisers from the four home nations asking them to consider the risks "from a broader perspective" than the JCVI had advised.

Zahawi dismissed suggestions that the government was no longer being “guided by the science” on the vaccine rollout, and insisted that ministers “have not made any decisions”.

“The JCVI have said that it is marginally more beneficial to vaccinate than not to vaccinate but not enough to make a record national recommendation,” he told Sky News.

“But they've also been very clear to say that their decision is based on things that they are qualified to look at, and they recognise that there are other factors that could harm the futures of children.”

People aged 12 to 15 who are clinically vulnerable or suffer from certain conditions have already been offered a COVID-19 vaccine in England.

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