Britons will not need to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to go to the pub, theatre or sport stadium in the future, a senior minister has promised.
Michael Gove ruled out the suggestion, insisting there was no plan to introduce any form of special identification for those who get the jab.
“I certainly am not planning to introduce any vaccine passports, and I don’t know anyone else in government who is,” he told Sky News.
The possibility was mooted by the new vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi on Monday.
He revealed the government was looking at issuing “immunity passports” and suggested firms like bars and cinemas “will probably also use that system”.
But the move sparked some anger – with Tory MP Marcus Fysh branding it “ignorant authoritarianism” and civil liberties group Big Brother Watch warning against “health apartheid”.
In a bid to dampen concerns, Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove insisted there was no plan to force people to get the vaccine if they wanted to visit some venues.
Asked if it was a possibility, he told Kay Burley: “No. I think the most important thing to do is make sure we vaccinate as many people as possible.
“There are three vaccines that are going through appropriate testing now to make sure that they’re absolutely safe and the most important thing is to make sure we get as many people as possible – starting with the most vulnerable, and then those who work on the front-line of the NHS – vaccinated effectively.”
He said there were a significant number of conspiracy theorists and admitted “that’s a big challenge because we’ve got to persuade people who are opposed to taking a vaccine that it’s in all of our collective interest”.
It is estimated that for herd immunity to be achieved between 50-80% of the population need to get a jab, dependent on how effective the vaccine is.
“I think we can take on some of the arguments from the anti-vax brigade, they’re not really based in science,” Mr Gove added.
“There’s a very rigorous process we undergo to make sure vaccines are safe.”
Mr Gove also played down the chance of another national lockdown in 2021, following concerns from scientists the Christmas rules relaxation will lead to a growth in coronavirus cases.
“I’m as confident as confident can be that we won’t need one,” he said.