Brits could soon be denied entry to restaurants, bars, movie theaters and sporting events if they refuse to get a COVID-19 vaccine, a top official said Monday.
Nadhim Zahawi, who was appointed on Saturday to be responsible for overseeing the rollout of the vaccine, said the shot would not be compulsory, but information about whether people have received a coronavirus vaccine might become available on the NHS Covid-19 phone app already used for contact tracing.
“But also I think you’d probably find that restaurants and bars and cinemas and other venues, sports venues, will probably also use that system as they’ve done with the app,” Zahawi told the BBC.
“The sort of pressure will come both ways: from service providers — who will say, ‘Look, demonstrate to us that you have been vaccinated’ — but also we will make the technology as easy and accessible as possible.”
When asked whether he thought it would be possible to do anything without the shot the minister said he believes that most businesses will want to adopt protocols that take into account a person’s vaccine status.
“I think people have to make a decision but I think you’ll probably find many service providers will want to engage in this in the way they did with the app,” Zahawi said.
The UK launched a contact tracing app in September in an effort to stop the spread of the deadly bug.
It remains unclear when a vaccine would hit the market in the UK, though experts have said it’s expected to be available before Christmas, subject to regulatory approval.
The UK government has already secured early access to 357m vaccine doses, including for 100 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, 40 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine and 5 million doses of the one from Moderna, the BBC reported.
Pfizer’s vaccine is undergoing review by regulatory authorities, while Moderna announced Monday that it would apply for US and European emergency clearance. However, according to The Guardian, Ilan Kelman, a professor of disasters and health at University College London, warned care needed to be taken for those who were unable to receive a vaccine for medical reasons.