COVID vaccine passports to be introduced by end of September for nightclubs and major events

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Happy cheering crowd with hands in air at music festival
Vaccine passports for nightclubs and other large venues could be introduced by the end of this month, Nadhim Zahawi told Sky News. (Stock image: Getty)

Vaccine passports for nightclubs and other big venues could be introduced by the end of this month, Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi has said.

Speaking to Sky News, Zahawi said the measure would help businesses and avoid an "open-shut-open-shut" situation that would negatively impact them.

The news that plans to check people's vaccine status before they are allowed entry to places like nightclubs could be introduced by the end of September comes amid controversy around the issue, with many MPs criticising the idea.

It comes after the Downing Street previously confirmed that the government will push on with the plans despite their unpopularity.

Speaking on Sky's Trevor Phillips on Sunday programme, Zahawi said: "We are looking at, by the end of September when everyone has had the opportunity to be fully vaccinated, for the large venues - venues that could end up causing a real spike in infections - where we need to use the certification process."

Watch: Vaccine passports will be introduced at big venues to avoid winter closures, minister says

"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 sort of right thing to do and we are absolutely on track to continue to make sure that we do that."

He said the reason behind the move was because both he and Prime Minister Boris Johnson want to "make sure the whole economy remains open".

Read more: Three quarters of Covid patients under-50 in hospital are unvaccinated, figures reveal

He added: "The worst thing we can do for those venues is to have a sort of open-shut-open-shut strategy because we see infection rates rise because of the close interaction of people, that’s how the virus spreads, if people are in close spaces in large numbers we see spikes appearing.

"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.’

Watch: Vaccines minister hopes COVID certification can lead UK out of pandemic

Zahawi later made the same suggestion on LBC, saying the step would help with the transition from "pandemic to endemic" and help the country get "as close to normal as possible" in the short term, and in the longer term for people to get their lives back "completely".

The vaccine passport scheme would mean people have to prove they have had two doses of a COVID vaccine before they are allowed into major events and nightclubs.

Last week Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced plans to introduce vaccine passports for entry to nightclubs and large-scale events in Scotland, with the Scottish Parliament due to vote on the plans on Thursday (9 September).

The rules, if approved, would cover indoor live events with more than 500 unseated people, outdoor live events with more than 4,000 unseated, and any event with over 10,000 attendees.

Wales' First Minister has previously said the Welsh Government has "no plans" to introduce mandatory vaccination certificates for venues.

Watch: What UK government COVID-19 support is available?

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