Get us in your inbox

Covid passports
Photograph: Shutterstock

What’s happening with vaccine passports and plans for the winter?

Will there be another lockdown this winter, and how will vaccinations work in London and England?

Written by
Chris Waywell

Health Secretary Savid Javid has stated that there absolutely, definitely wouldn’t be vaccine passports introduced this autumn, unless the government changes its mind again, as the government has revealed its Covid plans for this autumn and winter.

The controversial passport scheme was announced by PM Boris Johnson several weeks ago as a condition of people being allowed back into nightclubs. It was received by the nightlife industry with anger and disappointment: they cited the difficulty of enforcing the regulations and a shortage of trained door staff (along with other rôles within the leisure and hospitality sphere). They were originally pencilled in for October 1. The U-turn has apparently been prompted by fewer hospitalisations and deaths than anticipated following the removal of most lockdown restrictions.

Michael Kill of the Night Time Industries Association, said this week: ‘​​In June, the Government categorically ruled out vaccine passports. Then they announced in July that they would be going ahead for nightclubs. Over the summer, they briefed that the plans were unlikely to go ahead. Then, last week, the Vaccines Minister, confirming the Government would go ahead with policy to Parliament, said, “This is a precautionary measure to ensure that we can sustainably maintain the opening of all sectors of the economy.” We were then very encouraged to hear the Health Secretary say yesterday, “I’m pleased to say that we will not be going ahead with plans for vaccine passports.” But this morning, No 10 said checks on the vaccine status of people going to nightclubs and other crowded events remained a crucial part of the Government’s winter Covid plan due to be unveiled by the Prime Minister tomorrow.’

That seems to have happened: there won’t be vaccine passports (in England, at least: they’re still happening in Scotland). Meanwhile, more details are emerging about the government’s plans to deal with the expected rise in cases over the autumn and winter, not just of Covid, but also seasonal flu and other respiratory conditions. However, it was subsequently announced that venues might be given as little as one week’s notice if vaccine passports were to be introduced as an emergency contingency measure, which was greeted with widespread anger and dismay.

The new measures include vaccines boosts for people aged 50 and over, frontline health and care workers and those in care homes. Drawing for a source from Sage, the government’s scientific advisory group, The Times has reported that mandatory face coverings and working from home will be brought back in if there is a winter surge in infections. Savid Javid announced this week that England will also roll out jabs for those aged 12 to 15.

It seems likely, though, that advice/plans and all the rest will change a lot as the effects of schools going back and more people returning to offices are seen. Check back here for updates. 

The government’s full response plan can be viewed here.

Get planning anyway. Here are great things to do in London in September.

Or act fast: great things to do this week

Popular on Time Out

    Latest news