Vaccine passports could be mandatory at indoor and outdoor venues under revived scheme

The prospect of vaccine passports being used at indoor and outdoor venues in England this winter has been raised again by the Government.

The plans seemed to have been put on the backburner but on Monday night the Government launched a consultation, asking the public for views on the use of vaccine passports this autumn and winter if Covid-19 cases threaten to overwhelm the NHS.

The Plan B proposals also open the door to the number of venues being widened beyond nightclubs, music venues, outdoor festivals, concerts and sports events.

The consultation asks whether the public thinks the list of settings is too narrow, raising the prospect that other entertainment venues where people mingle and mix could be included.

They will face fierce criticism from Tory MPs, who have claimed the plans are “totally unacceptable”, discriminatory and a route to a “two-tier society”.

‘We need to be prepared’

But ministers last night insisted the Government needed to be prepared to “act swiftly” and adopt measures such as vaccine passports “at short notice” if there were “unsustainable pressures” on the NHS as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Maggie Troup, the health minister, said: “While we are totally confident the careful steps we are taking will help rule out the need for mandatory vaccine certificates, we need to be prepared for all scenarios.

“We know these kinds of contingency plans will only work if businesses and the public get to have their say and I’m urging everyone who could have to use certification: give us your views, give us your ideas.”

Industry and the public have been given until October 11 to respond to the planned vaccine passports, which would be mandatory for all adults over 18 attending the prescribed venues, and will require legislation.

Under the plan, only double-vaccinated people would be certified by the passports. Negative coronavirus tests and proof of natural immunity after recently recovering from the virus would no longer be permitted.

Weddings, funerals and workplaces exempt

The venues include all nightclubs, and other venues open after 1am offering alcohol, music, and dancing, as well as indoor events such as live music venues or large receptions with 500 or more people where they are likely to mix or move around during the event.

Vaccine passports will also be required at outdoor, crowded events such as festivals with 4,000 or more people and large sports and music stadia where there are 10,000 or more fans.

Communal worship, wedding ceremonies, funerals, other commemorative events and protests will be exempt as will workplaces, where it is being left to employers to decide on their best practice measures.

Under 18s will be excluded as will police officers, council officials and emergency services acting in their official duties, diplomats or anyone working for an international organisation.

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