Boris Johnson has suggested that pub landlords could demand proof that someone has had a COVID vaccine before they are allowed into the premises.
On Wednesday the prime minister told the House of Commons Liaison Committee that vaccine certificates for pubs may be introduced in the coming months – but that it may be left up to “individual publicans” to decide whether to implement the policy.
However, those who have not had – or choose not to get – a vaccine could instead show they have recently tested negative for coronavirus.
Combining the proof of vaccine with a negative test on one document is understood to be one option being considered by ministers to avoid discriminating against those who decline the jab for health, or other, reasons.
On Thursday he told broadcasters the result of a review into health certificates can be expected by 12 April, although it may not be possible to roll them out until everyone has been offered a jab.
He said: “I do think there is going to be a role for certification.
“What we said is we’ll be reporting on the work of the certification group in early April, either on April 5 or April 12.
“There are lots of difficult issues because there are some people who for medical reasons can’t get a vaccination, pregnant women can’t get a vaccination at the moment, you’ve got to be careful about how you do this.
“You might only be able to implement a thorough-going vaccination passport scheme even if you wanted such a thing in the context of when absolutely everybody had been offered a vaccine.”
On Wednesday Conservative MP William Wragg, chairman of the Commons Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee, asked the PM if “COVID vaccine certification” could be required for pub-goers.
Johnson replied: “I think that that’s the kind of thing – it may be up to individual publicans, it may be up to the landlord.”
He added that the “concept of vaccine certification should not be totally alien to us”, as he referred to the requirement of doctors to be vaccinated against hepatitis B.
But trade body UKHospitality criticised the prospect of pubs and restaurants being subject to vaccine certificates as “simply unworkable” and said it could cause conflict between staff and customers.
Chief executive Kate Nicholls added: “It is simply unworkable, would cause conflict between staff and customers and almost certainty result in breaches of equality rules.
“Through the success of the vaccine rollout we need to throw off the shackles of coronavirus in line with the government’s roadmap, not impose more checks on our ability to socialise and do business.”
Conservative MP and former minister Steve Baker also warned it could create a “two-tier Britain” for those who are unable to take up the vaccine for medical reasons.
He said: “We must not fall into this ghastly trap.”
A British Beer and Pub Association spokesperson said a vaccine passport for pubs would not “be appropriate or necessary”.
Watch: Publicans and Tory MPs' fury at PM's 'vaccine passports' for pubs suggestion