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UK to require vaccine certificates for venue entry to contain virus

By ANGUS McNEICE in London | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-09-07 09:11
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People wearing protective face masks shop inside a clothing store, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in London, Britain, July 26, 2021. [Photo/Agencies]

The United Kingdom politician overseeing the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, Nadhim Zahawi, has confirmed that people will have to share their vaccine status to gain entry to certain venues in England starting this month.

Under the so-called vaccine passport program, Zahawi said individuals looking to enter nightclubs and other venues with large crowds will need to provide proof of double vaccination.

The initiative will go live at the end of this month, the minister confirmed.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson first announced that the government was considering such a health pass system in July, and the idea was met with strong opposition from several politicians and nightlife industry heads.

Zahawi said the time is right to launch vaccine passports because the UK has begun off ering jabs to young adults. He said the move is necessary to avoid further lockdowns.

"When the evidence that you are presented is so clear-cut and that we want to make sure the industry doesn't have to go through an open-shut, open-shut sort of strategy, then the right thing to do is to introduce that by the end of September when all over 18-year-olds have had their two jabs," Zahawi told the BBC.

Last week, the prime minister's spokesman said the initiative will include "nightclubs and some other settings".

It is thought that soccer stadiums, live concerts, and business conferences are all likely to fall under the list of venues that will require vaccinations as an entry requirement.

Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats party, has been an outspoken critic of vaccine passports.

"As predicted, the government has reheated their COVID-ID card scheme," Davey said on Twitter. "They are divisive, unworkable and expensive and the Liberal Democrats will oppose them."

Michael Kill, chief executive of trade body the Night Time Industries Association, said the vaccine passports could "cripple" the nightclub industry. He predicted the move will encourage a rise in illegal parties and events, which he claimed will "place further pressure on emergency services and policing".

"After a short period of freedom, we are once again overshadowed by uncertainty. The end of September brings with it some huge challenges around staffing, discrimination, safety, and tourism," Kill said in a statement. "We are already seeing bookings and advance ticket sales dropping off at the end of September with several event promoters reporting refund requests due to COVID-19 passport requirements from the start of October."

But more than a dozen countries in Europe have already launched similar programs, requiring either proof of vaccination or a negative test result for entry to public venues.

Unrest linked to such programs has occurred in France and Germany, where protestors argue the system discriminates against people who do not wish to get vaccinated. Even so, both testing and vaccine rates have increased markedly in France, which implemented a health pass program earlier this summer.

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