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Pubs, restaurants, nightclubs and sporting events will be urged by the government to use ‘Covid passports’ – even after so-called Freedom Day next Monday – to curb the spread of the virus.
Businesses operating in “high risk settings” with little indoor ventilation will be “supported and encouraged” to use a certification system to check which customers have had either a recent negative test or have been double-jabbed with a vaccine.
Health secretary Sajid Javid revealed the advice as he updated MPs on Boris Johnson’s “roadmap” out of lockdown from July 19.
The Covid “certification” idea, which had been assumed to have been effectively killed off, is seen by the government as a way of helping keep down the number of infections during the current third wave, as well as offering a further incentive to the public to get vaccinated.
The certificates will not become compulsory and it will be left to individual firms whether they use them.
But they could start as early as next Monday, the date when all legal restrictions relating to Covid will be lifted.
It is understood the government does not intend to be prescriptive about which businesses use the certification system.
In trials used for sporting events like Euro2020 and Wimbledon, the “NHS Covid Pass”, available via the NHS App for those who have been vaccinated twice, has been used to verify the status of spectators beforehand.
Proof of a negative lateral flow test within 48 hours of an event, via email or text from Test and Trace, has also been used as an alternative to double-jabbed status.
The prime minister’s official spokesperson said: “Businesses and large events will be supported and encouraged to use certification in high risk settings to help limit the spread of infections in their venues.”
Full details will emerge when the guidance is published in coming days.
Some 34.5 million people have had two jabs to date, more than the two thirds of the adult population that Boris Johnson expected for so-called “Freedom Day” on July 19.
Although No.10 insists that the “unlocking” process will proceed as previously set out by the PM last week, there has been a marked shift in language away from personal responsibility towards the government saying how it would prefer the public to behave.
Following unease among scientists about the wholesale ditching of mask-wearing, ministers have talked about encouraging or recommending face coverings should still be worn in crowded or enclosed spaces or whether lots of strangers are gathered.
Similarly, there appears to be a shift from the “Big Bang” approach to urging caution in areas like getting workers back into the office.
“While government is no longer instructing people to work from homem, iif they can, we expect and recommend a gradual return to the workplace over the summer. We expect and recommend that people wear face coverings in crowded areas such as public transport,” the spokesperson said.