Vaccine passports would be “discriminatory” and the government has “no plans” to introduce them in Britain, Nadhim Zahawi has said.
In his strongest remarks against the case for documentation proving an individual has been inoculated, the minister responsible for the vaccine rollout said “that’s not how we do things in the UK”.
However, Mr Zahawi suggested that if other countries require immunisation passports, individuals could be able to seek records from their GPs to enable future travel.
Greece, which relies heavily on the tourism industry, has previously suggested the country could waive Covid quarantine restrictions from May for arrivals who can prove they have been vaccinated.
But asked whether the government was considering introducing a style of vaccine passport in the coming months, Mr Zahawi told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show: “No, we’re not.
“There are several reasons why we’re not doing that. One vaccines are not mandated in this country, as Boris Johnson has quite rightly reminded parliament that’s not how we do things in the UK, we do them by consent.
“We yet don’t know what the impact of vaccine on transmission is and it would be discriminatory.”
Tackled on the same issue in a separate interview on Sky News’s Sophy Ridge programme, Mr Zahawi added: “If other countries obviously require some form of proof, then you can ask you GP because your GP will hold your records and that will then be able to be used as your proof you’ve had the vaccine. But we are not planning to have a passport in the UK.”
His remarks came as official government figures showed over 11.4 million people had received their first dose in the UK, with ministers confident of offering jabs to everyone over the age of 50 by May.
Ed Miliband, the shadow business secretary, however, suggested coronavirus vaccine passports “may be necessary” and stressed the government should be “open” to the concept.
“There are complicated issues to do with this vaccine passport,” he said. “Is it just for international travel? Is it about as you go about your business in your society?
“That’s got to be looked at but meanwhile while that’s being looked at, we’re five or six weeks on from the South African variant being discovered. We still don’t have a quarantine system in place — so let’s proceed a step at a time. Of course let’s look at the vaccine passport, but let’s get the quarantine right and let’s get the vaccine rollout right too.”
Last week, a Downing Street spokesperson said: “There are still no current plans to rollout vaccine passports. Going on holiday is currently illegal but we have always been clear hat we will keep the situation under review.”