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Boris Johnson will ‘scrap plans for vaccine passports at nightclubs’ in winter Covid plan


Sajid Javid today killed off the idea of compulsory Covid passports in England after a huge Tory outcry. 

The Health Secretary declared that the government ‘will not be going ahead’ with the controversial move for nightclubs and major events, ahead of Boris Johnson unveiling the government’s ‘winter plan’ on Tuesday.

The proposals had come under intense fire from Conservative MPs as ‘unsupportable, coercive and discriminatory’ last week. 

In an interview with Sky News this morning Mr Javid initially told Sky News that he ‘hoped we can avoid’ the step. 

But little more than an hour later he was categorical, telling the BBC’s Andrew Marr show shortly afterwards: ‘We will not be going ahead with plans for vaccine passports.’ 

In his big set-piece on Tuesday Mr Johnson will also scrap some of the swinging powers that the government took to manage the response to the disease, and all-but rule out further lockdowns to control an anticipated surge over the coming months – after scientists said vaccinations can be an effective first line of defence. 

A booster jab programme could begin as early as this month, while other measures in the ‘toolbox’ for tackling outbreaks will include masks.  

The decision draws another dividing line within the UK, as Nicola Sturgeon has insisted that a certification scheme will be launched in Scotland from October 1.  

Boris Johnson is set to announce the Government’s winter Covid plan, with a focus being placed on vaccination as he remains reluctant to impose further lockdowns

Britain's vaccine drive is continuing to roll forward, taking the total amount of adults fully protected against the virus to just under 43.9million (80.8 per cent)

Britain’s vaccine drive is continuing to roll forward, taking the total amount of adults fully protected against the virus to just under 43.9million (80.8 per cent)

Health Secretary Sajid Javid gave a strong hint that mandatory Covid passports will not go ahead as he stressed rising vaccination rates and said it would only happen if there is 'no alternative'

Health Secretary Sajid Javid gave a strong hint that mandatory Covid passports will not go ahead as he stressed rising vaccination rates and said it would only happen if there is ‘no alternative’

Double-jabbed travellers ‘to be spared PCR tests next month’ 

Double-jabbed travellers will no longer have to take expensive PCR Covid tests when returning to the UK, the Government is poised to announce.

Officials are working towards scrapping the requirement for green and amber list countries before the half-term holidays next month, The Mail on Sunday can reveal, providing a huge boost for millions of holidaymakers and the beleaguered travel industry.

Travellers will no longer need Covid tests before leaving for Britain, while the unpopular PCR tests currently required on the second day after arrival will be replaced by cheaper lateral flow tests.

The move will slash the cost of family holidays by hundreds of pounds. Currently, the PCR test can cost more than £100, while the NHS offers free lateral flow tests.

The plan will be discussed this week by Boris Johnson, Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove who form the so-called Covid-O committee.

The change would also tackle fears that some PCR firms are profiteering and could provide an incentive for people to be vaccinated, as the new rules would only apply to those who have been double jabbed.

Ministers were sent out to defend the Covid passports proposals last week, with Nadhim Zahawi insisting they were the right thing to do even though he admitted they ‘went against everything I believe in’.

The Sunday Times said under the U-turn firms and venues who are already demanding proof of vaccination will be allowed to continue to do so, but they will not be any legal obligation.

Speculation has been mounting over what increased measures may be brought in this winter, a high-risk time for coronavirus as other respiratory illnesses.

Mr Johnson hopes to avoid locking down the entire country and will send a message by repealling some of the Government’s powers to shut down sections of the economy in England under the Coronavirus Act.

Mr Johnson said: ‘Thanks to the efforts of the public, the NHS and our phenomenal vaccination programme, we reached Step 4 in our road map and life has returned to a sense of normality.

‘These extraordinary times required necessary but intrusive measures. But I’m determined to get rid of any powers we no longer need because of our vaccine defences.

‘I will set out the next phase in our Covid response shortly.’

The powers expected to be repealed include those allowing the closing down of the economy, the imposing of restrictions on events, the power to temporarily close or restrict access to schools, and powers to detain infectious people.

The Government expects the independent Joint Committee on Vaccinations and Immunisation (JCVI) to recommend details of a jab booster programme next week. 

The focus on vaccination in the Covid winter plan comes after claims ministers were considering a so-called firebreak lockdown in October.

An unnamed member of the Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies (Sage) said a ‘precautionary break’ could be part of ‘contingency plans’, the i newspaper reported.

But Health Secretary Sajid Javid said: ‘I don’t think that’s something we need to consider.’

He said no decisions are ‘risk-free’ but insisted the ‘best defence’ against another wave of the virus is the vaccine programme.

Downing Street denied the Government is planning a lockdown or firebreak around the October half-term.

But the spokesman added that they have ‘retained contingency plans as part of responsible planning for a range of scenarios’.

They said: ‘These kind of measures would only be reintroduced as a last resort to prevent unsustainable pressure on our NHS.’

There are plans in place to begin giving booster jabs to the most vulnerable as early as this month, as more than 65 per cent of the entire UK population have been fully vaccinated.

Mr Johnson is expected to say vaccines will be the first line of defence this autumn and winter, while a decision is expected on how to roll out a booster jab programme (stock image)

Mr Johnson is expected to say vaccines will be the first line of defence this autumn and winter, while a decision is expected on how to roll out a booster jab programme (stock image)

The UK’s chief medical officers are drawing up advice to Government on whether children aged 12 to 15 should be vaccinated after the JCVI said the margin of benefit from vaccinating healthy children was too small to say they should receive a jab. 

The Observer reported that jabs for 12 to 15-year-olds would begin on September 22.

But the UK’s medical regulator has reportedly ruled that the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine cannot be used for third doses in this way.

This means the majority of third doses given out this autumn and winter are likely to be Pfizer.

This could see the Oxford jab, initially planned to be the workhorse of the UK’s vaccination programme, effectively phased out.

The AZ jab is already not offered to under 40s in the UK due to a link with rare blood clots.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said on Thursday that the Pfizer and AstraZeneca jabs are safe to use as boosters, but the JCVI has yet to give its advice to ministers.

The JCVI has already said a third dose should be offered to people with severely weakened immune systems. 

On Friday, Professor Sir Andrew Pollard, whose team developed the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine, said he believes the priority should be donating vaccines to countries where people are still awaiting a first dose.

His views have been echoed by his Oxford colleague Professor Dame Sarah Gilbert, who helped design the vaccine and said booster jabs may not be needed by everyone.

Several other countries, including the US, Israel, Hungary, Germany and France, have announced or started third dose programmes for at least some of their citizens. 

Meanwhile, it was reported that hundreds of thousands of long Covid patients were waiting up to six months to access clinics specifically set up to tackle the condition.

Department of Health bosses posted 29,547 new cases on Saturday, down 21 per cent on the 37,578 recorded last Saturday.

Health Secretary Sajid Javid (pictured) has dismissed the idea of October 'firebreak' restrictions saying it was not 'something we need to consider'

Health Secretary Sajid Javid (pictured) has dismissed the idea of October ‘firebreak’ restrictions saying it was not ‘something we need to consider’

But the number of people dying within 28 days of a positive test is continuing to increase, with 156 people falling victim to the virus, bringing the total figure past 158,000. The figure was up 30 per cent on the 120 recorded last week.

Fatalities tend to reflect changes in infection levels at least a week after due to the time it takes for people to become seriously ill. 

Britain’s vaccine drive is continuing to roll forward with 89,832 second doses dished out today. It takes the total amount of adults fully protected against the virus to just under 43.9million (80.8 per cent).

Some 25,019 first doses were also dished out, taking the total number of people to receive at least one jab up to 48.4million (89 per cent) 

Elsewhere, it was reported that PCR tests needed prior to travel will be scrapped, with the day two test required when returning from abroad to be replaced by a cheaper lateral flow test.

Officials are working towards scrapping the requirement for green and amber list countries before the half-term holidays next month, The Mail on Sunday revealed. 

The move will slash the cost of family holidays by hundreds of pounds. Currently, the PCR test can cost more than £100, while the NHS offers free lateral flow tests.  

The plan will be discussed this week by Boris Johnson, Chancellor Rishi Sunak, Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove who form the so-called Covid-O committee.

The change would also tackle fears that some PCR firms are profiteering and could provide an incentive for people to be vaccinated, as the new rules would only apply to those who have been double jabbed. 



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