People should be fully vaccinated before returning to office jobs but it will not be made a legal requirement in England, a cabinet minister has said.
Nor will the government go as far as requiring vaccine passports for entry to shops or pubs in England, the transport secretary, Grant Shapps, said. Some nightclubs require an NHS Covid pass for entry, while some football clubs have said they will also ask for proof of vaccination or a negative test.
Downing Street’s continued insistence that a so-called “jabs for jobs” policy is for individual businesses comes after some firms announced plans to make Covid-19 vaccinations obligatory for all workers.
They included Pimlico Plumbers, which has introduced such a policy among its 400-strong workforce, although employment lawyers questioned earlier this year whether it would be legally enforceable.
Boris Johnson announced earlier this month that vaccine passports would be compulsory to enter busy venues such as nightclubs, in a move that provoked an immediate backlash from Conservative backbenchers and the entertainment sector.
Asked on Friday about the question of employees receiving two vaccine doses before they go back to the office, Shapps told ITV’s Good Morning Britain it was a good idea, but said: “We are not going to make that legislation that every adult has to be double-vaccinated before they go back to the office”.
Ruling out vaccine passports for entry to shops or pubs, Shapps also said: “I don’t know why this is particularly controversial – nine out of 10 people have had their first vaccinations and are going on to have their second, so most people have already had their vaccinations anyway – and I’m talking about adults who have had their vaccinations anyway.
“So, for most people this doesn’t matter one way or the other. It does protect not just your life but other people’s lives when you get vaccinated, so of course, as a society, we should be encouraging it.
“We won’t go as far as requiring it to enter a shop or the pub, we will for very close contact things like going to nightclubs – other countries are for international travel – so I think there is precious little reason not to be vaccinated, every good reason to be vaccinated. Why wouldn’t we want to save lives? It’s just obvious to me.”
Chelsea FC announced this week that fans attending its home matches this season will have to provide proof of being fully vaccinated or show a negative Covid test.
The requirement will come into force as soon as 4 August, with the checks in place for the men’s team’s friendly game against Tottenham at Stamford Bridge.