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Pubs and nightclubs could ditch social distancing rules if they adopt Covid vaccine passport regimes

PUBS and nightclubs could ditch social distancing rules if they adop Covid vaccine passport schemes, it's claimed.

Ministers are considering allowing bars and big events to abandon tough rules if they operate coronavirus 'status checks'.

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It comes after a so-called 'papers for the pub' plan sparked a row in the Tory party.

Boris Johnson yesterday suggested pubs could ban drinkers who haven't had a Covid vaccination.

Punters may have to show proof of a jab or a recent negative test to get a pint.

The PM told MPs yesterday it “may be up to the landlord” — adding: “The concept of vaccine certification should not be totally alien to us.”

It comes as:

  • Britain's jabs roll-out has saved 6,600 lives since it launched, Matt Hancock said
  • Boris hinted pubs could ban punters who haven't had a vaccine
  • India dealt the UK's vaccine drive a blow by bringing in an export ban
  • Over-50s have been urged to book their jabs now
  • Boris Johnson has warned 'things are looking difficult on the continent' in a holiday blow for Brits

Government sources told The Sun that allowing pubs, bars and restaurants to set their own rules was within the scope of a review being led by Michael Gove and due to report back next month.

But the move has prompted strong criticism from Tory backbenchers, who worked it could lead to landlords turning away people from communities and ethnic backgrounds where take-up has been lower.

And now The Times has reported that officials are considering a passport scheme to reopen venues like clubs, which have been shut since the start of the pandemic.

One source told the paper many pubs will face a choice between being half-full with social distancing measures in place – or using certificates so they could open at full capacity.

It's unclear how long such a system would be required.

Outdoor hospitality is due to reopen next month.

The PM's plan to ease restrictions appears to be on track.

Internal Government estimates suggest deaths will fall below 20 a day in the weeks to come, while the number of people battling Covid in hospital could halve within a fortnight.

But the idea of vaccination passports has been deeply unpopular in the industry.

Trade body UKHospitality criticised the prospect of pubs and restaurants being subject to vaccine certificates as "simply unworkable" – and said it could cause conflict between staff and customers.

This morning, Children's Minister Vicky Ford was probed about what it'll mean for families in an interview on Good Morning Britain.

Asked how she can back a scheme that could ban families with young children from cinemas, pubs and theatres, the politician replied: "Of course everyone wants to get back to normal as quickly as possible."

But she added: "The Government has said it will do review and look at all those difficult questions, and I shouldn't get ahead of that review."

And she admitted to LBC: "It has lots of ethical questions."

Meanwhile, Tory MP and backbench rebel Steve Baker, who has repeatedly called for lockdown to be eased, warned it could create a "two-tier Britain" for those who are unable to take up the vaccine for medical reasons.

The deputy chairman of the Covid Recovery Group of Conservative lockdown sceptics said: "The Prime Minister began to tread a dangerous path when he opened the door to domestic Covid certificates.

"First they said we'll need them to watch the football, and now that it may be papers for the pub.

"Whether the state legislates for it, recommends it or simply allows it the result will be the same – a two-tier Britain that prevents pregnant women from taking part in society, given that the Government is telling them not to take the vaccine, or one where we turn back the clock and tolerate businesses turning away customers from communities which have shown an unfortunate hesitancy to take up the offer of a vaccine.

"We must not fall into this ghastly trap."

And Greg Mulholland, chairman of the British Pub Confederation, said: “For the Government to abdicate responsibility and ask pubs to make a moral judgment — it’s just not acceptable.

“On top of having to take on extra staff to serve people at tables, the idea pubs can take on staff to act as door staff for vaccine passports is absurd.”

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