England Says COVID-19 Vaccine Passports Could Be Implemented After Health Minister Stated Otherwise

The UK government may now try to implement at COVID-19 vaccine passport system as part of its winter pandemic strategy, coming days after Health Minister Sajid Javid said passport systems had been scrapped in England.

“Whilst we’re not going ahead with mandatory vaccine-only COVID-status certification (vaccine passports) now, we will be holding that power in reserve,” Javid told members of Parliament on Tuesday, coming in contrast with remarks he made over the past weekend to news outlets.

Officials “must prepare for all eventualities” but claimed that vaccine passport measures and similar mandates are not “an outcome anyone wants,” he also remarked Tuesday.

A document released by the UK government this week also suggested that vaccine passports will potentially play a role during the fall and winter months. While noting that such systems are a “Plan B” contingency as of now, businesses that may be impacted should make preparations.

“Under Plan B, the government expects to introduce mandatory vaccine certification in a limited number of settings, with specific characteristics,” the document reads (pdf). “The government hopes that it would not be necessary to mandate vaccine certification more widely than these settings, though this cannot be entirely ruled out.”

Health Secretary Sajid Javid
Health Secretary Sajid Javid during a visit to the Bournemouth Vaccination Centre, in Bournemouth, Dorset, United Kingdom, on Aug. 4, 2021. (Steve Parsons/PA)

And, according to the document, “if Plan B is implemented, it could be at short notice in response to concerning data.”

The UK government will now publish more information about a “proposed certification regime” around vaccine passports and will “seek to give businesses at least one week’s notice before mandatory vaccine certification came into force,” it continued.

Venues that may be impacted include nightclubs and indoor places that have more than 500 people in proximity to one another. Outdoor venues with over 4,000 people in close proximity and more than 10,000 people in any setting could face vaccine passport mandates as well, the document suggests.

Over the weekend, Javid had suggested that a plan to mandate vaccine passports for nightclubs and other events was scrapped, coming after lawmakers across different political parties voiced opposition to them.

“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,” Javid told the BBC on Sunday.

Several European countries and a small number of U.S. cities have introduced vaccine passport mandates in recent weeks, drawing mass protests in France, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, and elsewhere.

In New York City on Monday night, the same day that the city’s vaccine passport enforcement policies came into full effect, numerous demonstrators took to the streets and marched down Broadway and across the Brooklyn Bridge to decry the city’s mandate. Some railed against President Joe Biden’s recent announcement that companies with 100 or more employees will face penalties if their workers don’t get vaccinated or submit regular COVID-19 tests.

Jack Phillips

Jack Phillips

Senior Reporter

Jack Phillips is a reporter at The Epoch Times based in New York.

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