Vaccine passports for nightclubs and large venues come into force in England

15 December 2021, 06:18

Covid passes have come into force in England in large venues and nightclubs.
Covid passes have come into force in England in large venues and nightclubs. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

Mandatory Covid passes for nightclubs and large venues have come into force following a controversial vote on 'Plan B' measures by MPs.

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The new measures mean anyone going to a nightclub or a large venue, such as a football stadium or concert, will need to show proof they are double jabbed or proof of a negative lateral flow test through the NHS app - known as a Covid pass or vaccine passport.

Nightclubs, indoor unseated venues with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people and outdoor venues with more than 10,000 people are all affected by the rules.

It comes after nearly a third of Boris Johnson's MPs voted against the introduction of mandatory Covid "passports", with many saying they were unhappy about the way Mr Johnson was leading the country and his party.

Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, treasurer of the 1922 Committee, said that a leadership challenge has "got to be on the cards" for Mr Johnson in the new year if he did not change the way he worked with his MPs.

Read more: Half a million booster jabs given out on Monday as UK battles Omicron

While former Tory chief whip and leading rebel Mark Harper said: "You either listen and you respond and you do things differently or you ignore what you have been told and you plough on regardless and then this will happen over and over again."

Some 126 MPs voted against regulations to make Covid passes - also known as vaccine passports - mandatory in some venues, with fines for establishments that refused or those who faked the documentation.

Football stadiums and nightclubs have been free to operate at full capacity since final Covid restrictions were lifted in July.

Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston has called the measures "proportionate" to the situation the country faces at the moment but refused to rule out even stricter measures such as forcing clubs to reduce capacity at matches.

Read more: Over 18s can now book Covid booster jab appointments online

The extension of face masks to include more indoor settings, such as cinemas and theatres, was also approved in the Commons vote on Tuesday.

Exempt from the mask mandate are venues where customers consume food and drink, like pubs and restaurants, places such as gyms where people are exercising, or when people are dancing, for example in a nightclub.

MPs also supported the introduction of compulsory vaccination for NHS frontline workers and social care staff.

In an advert which aired on ITV on Tuesday evening, England's chief medical officer Professor Chris Whitty said every adult "needs" to get a booster jab in the face of the "highly infectious" variant.

Read more: Starmer: Labour will vote for Plan B as it's 'our patriotic duty'

Read more: What is the UK's Covid-19 Christmas 'Plan B'?

He told viewers: "Boosters give you the best possible protection against the virus and should significantly reduce your risk of serious illness and hospitalisation."

The NHS national booking system opened up to all over 18s on Wednesday, and while people are eligible for a booster three months after their second vaccine they can book after two months.

It marks the NHS meeting its objective to offer every eligible adult a chance to book a booster before the New Year.