Politics

Boris Johnson: We should consider vaccine passports to help reopen economy

Boris Johnson discusses vaccine passports for overseas travel

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It comes as a survey of the over-60s found 74 percent backed Covid certificates. The Prime Minister said it was obvious his Cabinet should “look at the possibility of making sure that we can continue to open up all sectors of the economy in a safe way down the rest of this year. “And, you know, we will look at all possibilities.” On a visit to Cornwall to inspect preparations for the easing of curbs on stores and other businesses, Mr Johnson added: “You won’t need any kind of certificate from Monday to go into a shop.

“And the same applies to May 17 – when we’re going to be opening restaurants, inside restaurants, inside pubs.”

A Whitehall review headed by Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove is examining the possibility of Covid passports. They would indicate whether an individual has been inoculated, recently tested or has antibodies after an infection.

Mr Gove is expected to report back in weeks. If the Government decides to go ahead with the idea, the certificates may be needed to attend sports events, cinemas, theatres and other events.

The PM said the vaccination programme remains the Government’s main goal and defended looking at other measures to combat a resurgence of the virus. He said: “It’s just very important for everybody to under- stand that the priority is to vaccinate as many people as we can. That’s what we’re doing.

“It is going well, so far. And I thank people for coming forward to be vaccinated.

“We do believe it is building a defensive shield in our population against the virus.

“We’ve done getting on for 32 million jabs now. And many, many people have now had their second jab as well so they have a very high degree of immunity.” A survey of more than 1,000 people by the over-60s campaign group Silver Voices found 85 percent backed Covid status certificates for international travel.

And 74 percent supported the measure for entry to businesses where social distancing is difficult.

A majority (62 percent) wanted both digital and paper versions of the passports to be offered. And the vast majority – 92 percent – wanted compulsory Covid jabs for health and social care staff in direct contact with vulnerable people.

Dennis Reed, director of Silver Voices, said “Our members have expressed very strong support for the vaccination programme.

“They want to make sure that its initial success in fighting the virus is not wasted by a laissez-faire approach to those who refuse to be immunised without good reason.

“Once all adults in the UK have been offered the jab, and provided those with genuine medical reasons are exempted, there is no justification for nonvaccinated people to demand entry into crowded venues.

“Bogus human rights arguments will ensure that the virus continues to circulate in communities and will provide opportunities for resistant new strains to develop.”

He added: “Also, we cannot have unvaccinated health and care staff in intimate proximity to vulnerable people.

“There is a long history of requiring certain health occupations to have vaccinations, for example against Hepatitis B/C – and previously TB. We respect the right of people to refuse to have the jab, but they should not have the right to infect other people.

“With a million people suffering from long Covid this is a public health emergency – and emergency measures remain necessary.”

Mr Johnson faces widespread opposition to his Covid status certificates idea at Westminster with Labour, the Lib Dems and the SNP joining around 40 Tory rebels to rule out backing the proposals as they stand.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, visiting Plymouth, called the current thinking “a complete mess” yesterday.

He said: “We do not support the Government’s plans in their current form.

“One day he’s talking about tests – then it’s certificates. It’s a complete mess.”

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