Drinkers could need Covid vaccine passports to enter pubs as No 10 considers new rule

Pubs have only just been allowed to open without restrictions but they could soon be forced to require a vaccine passport from drinkers before they can enter.

Vaccine passports could be made a mandatory requirement for entry to pubs under new coronavirus rules being considered by the government, Boris Johnson's spokesperson has suggested.

In a briefing for journalists the spokesperson refused to rule out extending the use of vaccine passports to pubs after the prime minister announced on Monday that they would be required for entry to nightclubs from September.

Asked whether drinkers would soon need to prove their vaccination status in order to enter pubs, the PM's spokesperson said: "The prime minister talked about the sort of areas we were considering, and nightclubs are where there is significant evidence we have at the moment.

"But we're going to use the coming weeks to look at the evidence, particularly both in the UK and globally before making a specific decision."

The government has been blasted for causing confusion with its coronavirus messaging, much of which Mr Johnson set out in a press conference on Monday, the day England had almost all of its Covid-19 restrictions lifted.

He told the 'freedom day' press conference he does not want to see vaccine certificates being used in pubs, but envisages them being used "closed spaces, crowded places and close-contact settings", such as nightclubs.

The news that vaccine passports would be required for nightclub entry caused fury in the sector, with the announcement coming on the first day they were allowed to reopen since being forced to close last March.

Night Time Industries Association chief executive Michael Kill accused the government of “an absolute shambles”. “So, ‘freedom day’ for nightclubs lasted around 17 hours then,” he said. “80% of nightclubs have said they do not want to implement Covid passports, worrying about difficulties with enforcing the system and a reduction in spontaneous consumers, as well as being put at a competitive disadvantage with pubs and bars that aren’t subject to the same restrictions and yet provide similar environments.”

The idea of mandating vaccine passports for pubs will come as a blow to the industry, with many already struggling to stay open due to extremely high volumes of people being told to isolate by the NHS Covid-19 app.

Pub chain Greene King has been forced to close 33 of its venues after too many staff were told to quarantine and Wetherspoons told Sky News it had "maybe a couple of hundred" staff off".

The "pingdemic", as it has been branded, has seen more than 500,000 people told to self-isolate recently amid a surge in coronavirus cases across the UK.

The government appeared to soften its messaging around the app's self-isolation instructions, with business minister Paul Scully saying it is only "advisory" for people to quarantine if told by the app, not compulsory.

But further confusion was caused when Downing Street released a statement hours later saying it is "crucial" to self-isolate if you are 'pinged' by the NHS Covid app.

The statement said: “Isolation remains the most important action people can take to stop the spread of the virus. "Given the risk of having and spreading the virus when people have been in contact with someone with Covid it is crucial people isolate when they are told to do so, either by NHS Test and Trace or by the NHS Covid app. "Businesses should be supporting employees to isolate, they should not be encouraging them to break isolation."