Major U-Turn from UK’s vaccine minister: “Absolutely no plans for Covid passports”

The minister in charge of rolling out Britain’s vaccination programme has said there are no plans to introduce Covid-19 passports or restrict people who refuse the injection. 

Minister for Business, Industry and Covid Vaccine Deployment Nadhim Zahawi had previously announced on radio that it would be “virtually impossible to do anything without a vaccine”, but appears to have changed his mind following a parliamentary debate on a petition signed by over 300,000 people opposing immunity passports.

Explaining that he had “misspoken” on the matter, Zahawi insisted his department is “not looking at immunity passports at all.”

“The absolute focus is to make sure we vaccinate the nine categories the joint committee stipulated. Because actually the most important thing, ultimately, is to vaccinate the people who are at highest risk of death from this virus.”

“The sooner we do it the sooner we can get back to normal life.”

“I think mandating vaccinations is discriminatory and completely wrong… and I would urge businesses listening to this debate today not to even think about this,” Zahawi told parliament this week.

“We have absolutely no plans for vaccine passporting.”

The petition states “I want the Government to prevent any restrictions being placed on those who refuse to have any potential Covid-19 vaccine. This includes restrictions on travel, social events, such as concerts or sports. No restrictions whatsoever.”

The Department of Health and Social Care did not appear to be as supportive of the petition in September, writing that it is “everyone’s responsibility to do the right thing for their own health, and for the benefit of the wider community,” and that “the Government will carefully consider all options to improve vaccination rates, should that be necessary.”

Civil liberties groups labeled Zahawi’s comments “a welcome return to rationality” however.

Conservative MP for Wycombe Steve Barker also took the opportunity to warn against any “implicit coercion” of citizens to take the vaccine, saying they must not lose their liberties as a consequence of not wanting the injection.

“That to me would be totally unacceptable,” Barker explained.

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