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Vaccine passports for pubs? Minister does not explicitly rule out move

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A minister has not explicitly ruled out the prospect of the government requiring vaccine passports for people to go to pubs.

Business minister Paul Scully told Kay Burley that ministers are “not saying crowded pubs at all” as part of plans to require people to prove their COVID-19 vaccine status to enter nightclubs and other “crowded venues” from the end of September.

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But in the same answer he went on to say that “we’re not ruling anything out”, before adding: “We’re saying nightclubs and also larger ticketed events as well.”

When it was put to him that some pubs can be as crowded as nightclubs, Mr Scully said the government has to “work on the definition” of “crowded venues” that will be covered by vaccine passports

He said: “We’ve got to define it really carefully and we’ll do that in the coming months until we get there.”

Mr Scully added that “a number of” sporting venues are already looking at requiring vaccine passports for entry.

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Sir Patrick Vallance, the government’s chief scientific adviser, told a Downing Street news conference on Monday that nightclubs could be “potential super spreading events”.

Asked why the measure was not being introduced immediately in light of this, Mr Scully said ministers have “got to get the detail right”.

Some 35% of 18 to 30-year-olds – three million people – are unvaccinated, but the minister denied it was effectively a “bribe” to younger people to get them vaccinated, stressing the move was about stopping the NHS being “overwhelmed”.

“This is the right thing to do to make sure that we get on top of the transmission of cases,” Mr Scully said.

The announcement of vaccine passports for nightclubs was made by the government on the day they were allowed to open for the first time since March 2020.

Boris Johnson is facing a backlash over the policy, with industry figures condemning it as an “absolute shambles”.

The prime minister told Monday’s news conference that “some of life’s most important pleasures and opportunities are likely to be increasingly dependent on vaccination”, pointing to international travel in particular.

He said there was concern about the “continuing risk posed by nightclubs”, adding: “I don’t want to have to close nightclubs again as they have elsewhere, but it does mean nightclubs need to do the socially responsible thing and make use of the NHS COVID pass.

“I should serve notice now that by the end of September, when all over-18s will have had their chance to be double jabbed, we are planning to make full vaccination the condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather.”