Papers for a Pint: Boris Says Vaccine Certificates Shouldn’t Be ‘Alien’ Concept

EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 07: Charles Douglas Barr enjoys a pint outside The Last Drop pub in the Grassmarket on October 7, 2020 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that pubs and restaurants across the country's central belt, including Edinburgh and Glasgow, will close from Friday at …
Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

Prime Minister Boris Johnson has suggested that pub landlords may bar people who cannot prove they have been vaccinated against coronavirus, also saying that “vaccine certification” should not be considered a foreign concept in Britain.

Speaking to a House of Commons committee on Wednesday, Johnson said that “the basic concept of vaccine certification should not be totally alien to us” and gave support to elderly care home managers who insist that staff are vaccinated.

“We’ve seen what happened in care homes. It doesn’t seem to me to be irresponsible at all — far from it, wholly responsible — for care home companies to think of requiring vaccination,” Prime Minister Johnson said, according to comments reported by The Times.

The remarks follow reports corroborated by Health Secretary Matt Hancock that the government was considering vaccination as a “condition of deployment” in care homes and other healthcare settings, contrary to the prime minister’s December remarks that it “is no part of our culture or our ambition in this country to make vaccines mandatory”.

Hospitality venues will be able to serve clients from next month outside under the prime minister’s “roadmap” strategy out of lockdown, with service indoors resuming in May.

Echoing predictions made in November by Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi, Johnson also suggested that hospitality managers, such as pub landlords, may demand proof of immunity or decline service.

“That may be up to the individual publicans — it may be up to the landlord,” the prime minister said when asked if licence holders may demand proof of vaccination.

Just last month, Prime Minister Johnson had said: “What I don’t think we will have in this country is, as it were, vaccination passports to allow you to go to the pub, or something like that.”

Pub and hospitality industry leaders have called the suggestion “unworkable” and “unfair and absurd”. While Brexit leader Nigel Farage called it “totally unworkable” and a “nightmare for struggling landlords”.

“Do I really have to show vaccine documentation just to go for a pint? What if my son is with me and too young to have been jabbed?” Mr Farage questioned.

This is not the first time, however, that Prime Minister Johnson has contradicted earlier remarks where he signalled his opposition to vaccine passports for domestic use.

Late last month when Johnson confirmed that senior minister Michael Gove was looking into the role of the “COVID status certification”, the prime minister said that while “fervent libertarians” may object, “other people” will support vaccine certificates.

“This is an area where we’re looking at a novelty for our country. We’ve never thought of having anything like this before, that you have to show when you go to a pub or a theatre,” Mr Johnson said.

Last week, the European Union unveiled its proposal for a bloc-wide vaccine passport which it hopes will open up travel by Summer. Earlier this month, Downing Street officials were reported to be talking to Brussels about the scheme.

Prime Minister Johnson admitted this month his belief that vaccine passports for international travel “will be a feature of our life in the future”.

“We’re looking at what they’re thinking of in other countries and we’ll be making sure we report back to everybody as soon as we possibly can,” Johnson added.

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