Government rules out Covid vaccine passports for essential shops, public services, and trains

The government has said it will “never” introduce Covid-19 vaccine passports as a condition of accessing essential shops, public services, or trains and buses.

Four simultaneous reviews commissioned by Boris Johnson are looking at whether vaccination or immunity certificates could be needed for travel, as a condition of accessing certain businesses, or to attend large events.

While the reviews are still ongoing, the commissions released an interim report on Monday ruling out certain settings where ministers believe requiring certificates would always be inappropriate.

“The Government believes that there are some settings (such as essential public services, public transport and essential shops) where COVID-status certification should never be required, in order to ensure access for all,” the report says.

But the interim report conversely says Covid certification “could potentially play a role” in settings such as theatres, nightclubs, and “mass events such as festivals or sports events”.

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This would “help manage risks where large numbers of people are brought together in close proximity”, the reviews, led by Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, say.

The policy is also being considered as a way of easing social distancing requirements in pubs and restaurants, but the government says it has not yet made a decision on the issue and will continue to engage with the hospitality industry.

The govenment says that such a certificate could be “acquired through vaccinations, testing or natural immunity”. Anyone who has had the virus in the previous six months could be considered to have natural immunity, the review suggested.

Speaking at a press conference on Monday afternoon Boris Johnson described the review’s interim report as “early thinking”.

He said: “There is absolutely no question of people being asked to produce certification or a Covid status report when they go to the shops or the pub garden or the hairdressers on Monday.

“Indeed, we’re not planning that for step three either. May 17, as you know, we’re hoping to go for the opening of indoor hospitality – we’re not planning for anything of that kind at that stage.”

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