“I certainly am not planning to introduce any vaccine passports, and I don’t know anyone else in government who is,” he told Sky News on Tuesday.
Gove’s intervention came after Nadhim Zahawi, the newly appointed vaccine minister, suggested that people may need to prove they have been vaccinated against the CCP virus before they are allowed to enter restaurants or entertainment venues.
In an interview with BBC Radio 4’s World At One programme on Monday, Zahawi said the jabs will not be compulsory but the government is looking at the technology that will enable “restaurants, bars, cinemas, and other venues, sports venues” to check if someone has got the vaccine before allowing them in.
The idea of a “vaccine passport” triggered a backlash among Conservatives. Tory MP Marcus Fysh wrote on Twitter on Monday that he was “all in favour of vaccine development and use,” but was “100 percent against this ignorant authoritarianism.”
Asked if “vaccine passports” might in the future become an option, Gove told BBC Breakfast on Tuesday, “Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, that’s not the plan.”
Am all in favour of vaccine development and use, including for COVID. They need to be open and appropriate though so people can be confident in those approved and they can be effective across the range of diseases we face. https://t.co/GCorXqY111
— Marcus Fysh (@MarcusFysh) November 30, 2020
“Of course, individual businesses have the capacity to make decisions about who they will admit and why,” he said. “It’s up to any individual pub owner or licensee to decide who they’ll admit and on what basis. They are private businesses.”
But Zahawi was not the only government official who have raised this possibility.
Baroness Dido Harding, the head of NHS Test and Trace, said at an event organised by the Health Service Journal at the weekend that she hoped “to be able to have a single record as a citizen of your test results and whether you’ve been vaccinated,” the Times of London reported.
Mass vaccination is part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s three-pronged approach of “tiering, testing, and the roll-out of vaccines.”
Johnson told a press conference last Tuesday that he hoped to “inoculate the vast majority of the people who need the most protection by Easter.”
Britain has secured 100 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine candidate and a further 255 million doses of a combination of other vaccine candidates including those from Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna. All three are awaiting final approval by regulators before they can be rolled out.
Mary Clark contributed to this report.