Politics

Use of vaccine passports could be extended if there is a ‘public health need’ – minister

The government will look at extending the use of vaccine passports if there is a “public health need” to do so, Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden has said.

Mr Dowden told Sky News the government “want as few restrictions for as short a period as possible”, but that if the situation with coronavirus worsens, ministers will consider requiring vaccine certification to attend more venues to “protect” the public.

The culture secretary did, however, emphasise that the government is “always reluctant to impose further burdens on businesses unless we really have to”.

It comes a day after Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that vaccine passports will be introduced in Scotland for entry into venues with large crowds from 1 October.

COVID-19 certification will be required to enter events such as nightclubs, music festivals and some football grounds, Ms Sturgeon said.

MSPs in Holyrood voted by 68 to 55 in favour of the measure which will be introduced from 1 October after all Scottish adults have had the opportunity to receive both COVID-19 vaccines, with two weeks having passed to allow the vaccine to take effect.

Asked whether the UK will be implementing the same measure, Mr Dowden told Sky News: “Well my overall approach to certification – and the prime minister’s and the rest of the government’s – is, in relation to any restrictions, we want as few restrictions for as short a period as possible.

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“But if we need them to protect public health, we will.

“That is why we have said in relation to very high-risk venues – and a nightclub is an example of that, you have got lots of people mingling very closely to each other, often poor ventilation – we will be looking at bringing in certification for the nightclubs towards the end of the month.”

Mr Dowden added that the government “continue to engage with other sporting and culture venues”, adding: “If there is a need to further extend that certification according to the public health need we will look at doing so.

“But we are always reluctant to impose further burdens on businesses unless we really have to.”

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