COVID-19: Health secretary 'not anticipating' further lockdowns and rules out vaccine passports

Sajid Javid talks about the possibility of future lockdowns on The Andrew Marr Show. (BBC)
Sajid Javid talks about the possibility of future lockdowns on The Andrew Marr Show. (BBC)

Health secretary Sajid Javid has ruled out plans for vaccine passports and has said he can't see how the UK will be forced into another COVID-19 lockdown.

Speaking on the BBC's Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Javid said he was "not anticipating anymore lockdowns".

Asked about the festive season, he said: "Of course, we get Christmas."

But on future lockdowns, he added: "I think it would be irresponsible for any health minister around the world to take anything off the table, but I just don't see how we get another lockdown."

Read: Sajid Javid says he wants to ditch PCR tests for travellers 'as soon as I possibly can'

It comes after the government earlier this week denied reports that it had been planning an October lockdown in England.

The Department of Education said in a tweet: "It is not true that the government is planning a lockdown or firebreak around the October half-term."

The prime minister's spokesman also refuted the reports, saying plans had been kept for a range of scenarios, but added: "These kind of measures would only be reintroduced as a last resort to prevent unsustainable pressure on our NHS.

"I think we've been clear throughout that we will take action, and indeed we have done when necessary to protect our NHS."

Javid also told Marr that the government "will not be going ahead" with plans for vaccine passports in order to gain access to nightclubs and other crowded events.

Watch: Sajid Javid speaks about getting rid of PCR tests for travellers

Plans had been announced for members of the public to be required to show proof they have had two doses of a COVID-19 vaccine in order to gain entry to clubs and other large-scale events in England.

But in a U-turn on Sunday, following a backlash from Tory MPs, the health secretary said the idea had been scrapped.

Javid said the government should not be introducing coronavirus measures "just for the sake of it".

"There's a lot of defences – we've just gone through some of them – that we need to keep in place, because this virus hasn't gone anywhere. There's still a pandemic so of course we need to remain cautious," he said.

"But we just shouldn't be doing things for the sake of it or because others are doing, and we should look at every possible intervention properly.

"So you asked about vaccine passports, so I think it's fair to say, I think most people probably instinctively don't like the idea, I mean I've never liked the idea of saying to people you must show your papers or something to do, you know, what is just an everyday activity, but we were right to properly look at it, to look at the evidence.

"What I can say is that we've looked at it properly and whilst we should keep it in reserve as a potential option, I'm pleased to say that we will not be going ahead with plans for vaccine passports."

Meanwhile, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth told The Andrew Marr Show there was "a lot of evidence" that powers under the Coronavirus Act had been abused.

He said it was key to separate the Coronavirus Act from lockdown legislation, and that it seemed reasonable for the government to repeal some powers in it.

Ashworth said: "There's a lot of evidence that a lot of those powers have been abused so we're going to have to look at the detail, we're going to have to properly understand it, but at first sight it looks reasonable, but let me look at the detail when it's all published."

Asked whether he was wrong to previously say opening up would be "reckless", Ashworth pointed out that thousands of people were still in hospital with COVID-19.

He said: "The virus is still circulating, and we're still worried about the winter."

Watch: Growth slowdown proves No 10 has mountain to climb in COVID recovery