COVID-19: Vaccine passports will be introduced at big venues to avoid winter closures, minister says

·3-min read

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

Vaccine passports are going to be introduced at big venues to avoid winter closures, a minister has told Sky News.

Speaking to Trevor Phillips on Sunday, Nadhim Zahawi said the government wanted to avoid a situation where businesses continually had to open and close their doors at short notice.

The vaccines minister also said that no decision has been made on whether to offer coronavirus jabs to all 12 to 15-year-olds - and he stressed that, if this does happen, parental consent will be required.

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His comments came after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) decided against backing the vaccination of youngsters on health grounds alone, given coronavirus presents such a low risk to them.

The UK's chief medical officers are currently reviewing the wider benefits of the move, such as reducing school absences.

On the issue of whether healthy 12 to 15-year-olds should be offered a vaccine, Mr Zahawi said: "We have not made any decisions, so we haven't decided not to listen to the experts.

"On the contrary, all four ministers, the secretary of state Sajid Javid and his fellow ministers in the devolved administrations have agreed to ask the chief medical officers to convene expert groups, including the JCVI being in that, to be able to recommend which way we should go."

Watch: 'No decision made on jabs for teens'

Pressed over whether parental consent would be sought if approval was given, Mr Zahawi said: "I can give that assurance, absolutely."

The minister also said checking people's vaccine status is the "right thing to do" to ensure the whole economy remains open.

Asked if he has made up his mind about vaccine passports in England, Mr 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.

"If you look at what the FA has 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.

"There's a reason for that... the reason being is that, I, as does the prime minister, want to make sure the whole economy remains open.

"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."

Mr Zahawi said he would do "everything in my power" to avoid another lockdown and was focused on making sure the booster programme is delivered.

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He added: "Nobody enjoys, by the way, in this government, certainly not this prime minister, having restrictions on people's freedoms.

"It goes against the DNA of this government to do that."

Watch: Parents consider vaccine for children

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