BORIS Johnson has shelved much-loathed plans to introduce so-called 'Covid passports' for pubs and restaurants this year.
In a major boost for the hospitality trade, the PM will exempt bars and restaurants from new Covid safety rules.
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Meanwhile, he's ordered officials to concentrate instead on finding ways for Brits to begin travelling again – and the documents could open up parts of the world for summer holidays, it's hoped.
And the 'passports' will still be used domestically, even though landlords and maître d's won't have to ask for them.
Those attending mass gatherings, such as festivals or major sports events, are likely to be required to provide proof of a jab, test or natural immunity.
The system is already being trialled at nine pilot events where experts will also explore the impact of high-tech ventilation and Covid tests on entry at cutting rates.
The move to abandon passports for pints follows a furious backlash from Tory MPs and parts of the hospitality industry about the idea of forcing people to produce ‘papers for the pub’.
It comes as:
- Fully-vaccinated Americans will be able to travel to the EU this summer
- The number of people testing positive for Covid in the UK every day has halved in a month
- A third of NHS trusts no longer have any coronavirus patients in intensive care wards as infections plunge
- Brits in their 30s will be offered the jab within days, according to reports
- The UK secures 100m doses of a vaccine from a French pharma company
The PM floated the idea of extending a new ‘Covid certification scheme’ to the hospitality sector last month – and argued: "It should not be totally alien to us."
It had been suggested that the passports could allow social distancing rules to be relaxed and pubs to pack in punters.
But faced with huge opposition, as well as plunging Covid rates, Mr Johnson is understood to be turning against the idea.
One government source told the Daily Mail: "I would be amazed if we introduce Covid certification for hospitality this summer.
"The focus is more on big events and reopening sectors that we struggled to open last year."
And Mr Johnson appeared to suggest he was set to bin the idea of a passport for a pint last week.
"What we are looking at – what I think any responsible government would look at – is how we use people’s Covid status to open up those things that are very tough and did prove very tough to open last year," he said.
It's been claimed any such scheme could well be extended to hospitality if the UK finds itself at the heart of yet another surge in cases.
Meanwhile, 22 leading scientists say social distancing must be scrapped in June – regardless of Covid certificates – to allow Brits to "take back control of their own lives".
The academics have signed an open letter calling for the end of all “low-level” restrictions by early summer.
Signatories include Professor Robert Dingwall, who sits on a sub-committee of the Government’s Sage group, and Professor Carl Heneghan, director of Oxford University’s Centre for Evidence-Based Medicine.
All legal coronavirus restrictions are set to end on June 21 – but health experts have stressed that “low-level” measures may persist beyond this date.
This could include mask-wearing or surge testing to stamp out hotspots of infection.
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