Vaccine Passports Could Fuel Spread of Covid, Says Leaked Government Report

A leaked government document suggests vaccine passports could be counterproductive and fuel the spread of Covid-19, it has been reported.

The government’s impact assessment, seen by the Telegraph , suggests the passports could be “counterintuitive and potentially counterproductive” as they may push people from larger venues into poorly ventilated pubs.

The newspaper also quoted the impact assessment as saying the policy would slash turnover for organisers of large events.

It estimated one month of Covid certification, which Boris Johnson has said could be rolled out as part of his “plan B” if cases continue to rise, could see profits of venues where they would be required drop between £345m and £2.067bn.

More than 5,700 extra stewards would also be needed in stadiums with a capacity for 10,000 people or more to certify proof of vaccination, it said. The document raised doubts that large stadiums would be able to hire sufficient staff to manage the vaccine checks.

The internal analysis, compiled by the Department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), found a core concern in the sector is that certification could displace activity away from large, well-ventilated venues and into “unstructured and poorly ventilated pubs instead”.

“There is potential displacement between live events venues and hospitality venues,” the Telegraph quoted the document as saying.

“A core concern in the sector is that certification could displace activity and business away from music venues to, say, pubs with music and late alcohol licenses, etc which could be counterintuitive and potentially counterproductive.

“Similarly, if certification displaces some fans from structured and well-ventilated sports stadia this could lead to them attending unstructured and poorly ventilated pubs instead, where they will have access to more alcohol than if they were in the stadia.

“Evidence from the Euros showed spikes in cases associated with pubs even when England were playing abroad.”

Should the government introduce vaccine passports in the event of it launching plan B, certification will be required at nightclubs, indoor settings with 500 plus attendees, outdoor settings with 4,000 plus attendees, and any other venue with 10,000 plus attendees.

A DCMS spokesperson told the Telegraph there is “currently no evidence to suggest that businesses have been impacted by lower attendance when certification is used, with various venues already using this on entry throughout the year”.

He added: “Plan B is as published in the autumn and winter plan and this document does not represent government policy. We have been clear throughout that we would only implement plan B if evidence suggested the NHS was going to come under unsustainable pressure.”

The DCMS has been approached by The Independent for further comment.

It comes after the first weekend of Scotland’s vaccine passport scheme was criticised by a hospitality sector body for being an “unmitigated disaster”.

The Scottish Hospitality Group (SHG) said that staff have faced “intolerable levels of abuse” and some venues saw a drop in footfall of up to 40 per cent.

It is calling on the Scottish government to scrap the scheme, which has been legally enforceable since 18 October.

In Scotland, proof of full vaccination is currently required upon entering nightclubs and large events as part of efforts to limit the spread of coronavirus and increase vaccine take-up.

The measures technically came into effect from 1 October, but an 18-day grace period was announced following backlash from affected industries and significant problems with the new app.

The leaked report also comes amid growing pressure on the government to activate plan B in England over fears the NHS could be overwhelmed over the winter.

Plan B measures would include the mandatory wearing of masks, a return to home-working and the implementation of vaccine passports.

On Friday, minutes from the Sage group of government advisers showed scientists warned ministers to start preparing for plan B to combat the spread of Covid. Similar calls have also emerged from the NHS Confederation and the British Medical Association.