British Prime Minister Boris Johnson suggested on Wednesday that some pubs might require customers to produce vaccine certificates, an idea that he had previously deemed unlikely.
Almost 29 million people have received their first vaccine dose in Britain already in the fastest rollout in Europe, and there have been calls to open up the economy faster because of the success of the vaccination programme.
Appearing before a committee of senior lawmakers, Johnson said the “basic concept of a vaccine certification should not be totally alien to us”, citing how surgeons were required to have a Hepatitis B shot.
Asked whether ordinary citizens going to the pub might need one, he said: “I think that that’s the kind of thing that may be up to an individual publicans, it may be up to the landlord.”
He told the committee the public had been “thinking very deeply” about such issues.
“My impression is that there is a huge wisdom in the public’s feeling about this,” he said.
“People, human beings, instinctively recognise when something is dangerous and nasty to them, and they can see that COVID is collectively a threat and they want us as their government, and me as the Prime Minister to take all the actions I can to protect them.”
Last month when he outlined England’s “roadmap” out of the coronavirus lockdown, Johnson ruled out any government-led vaccine passport scheme, although ministers have said that some certification might be needed for international travel, while it is considering whether care home staff must have shots.
“What I don’t think we will have in this country is, as it were, vaccination passports to allow you to go to the pub, or something like that,” he said in February.
He has since mandated senior minister Michael Gove to review the role that vaccine certification can have in society, including the reopening of hospitality venues, saying there were deep and complex ethical issues to explore.