Exclusive

'Getting jabs will help, not hinder you' as England moves out of lockdown, PM tells LBC

28 July 2021, 07:31 | Updated: 28 July 2021, 15:37

By Asher McShane

Getting jabbed "will help you, not hinder you" for travel and mass events as England moves out of lockdown, Boris Johnson exclusively told LBC today.

In an interview at 10 Downing Street with Nick Ferrari, the prime minister suggested that those who have been vaccinated will have an advantage over those who refuse when it comes to freedoms such as holidays and large-scale events.

"I think it’s a very positive thing to do to go and get a vaccine," he said.

"People can obviously see, when you look at things like travel, like mass events, that it’s going to be one of those things that will help you, not hinder you."

The PM's comments are a strong hint towards the introduction of vaccine passports, after similar remarks by Michael Gove who said that "some form of certification is the right way to go" for people who want to attend football matches.

Boris Johnson urged people to continue being cautious about coronavirus
Boris Johnson urged people to continue being cautious about coronavirus. Picture: LBC

Asked whether those who turn down jabs should be barred from nightclubs, sports stadiums or even university - a measure that would likely be implemented through such documentation - Mr Johnson stressed that getting inoculated against coronavirus is "a very positive thing to do".

Mr Johnson also urged caution following remarks by Sage member Professor Neil Ferguson who said on Tuesday that "the bulk of the pandemic" could be behind the country by September or October.

The PM was more guarded, saying that despite seeing "some encouraging recent data", it is still "far too early to draw any general conclusions".

He added: "The most important thing is for people to recognise that the current situation still calls for a lot of caution and for people just to remember that the virus is still out there. A lot of people have got it and it still presents a significant risk."

Read more: UK 'can safely relax travel rules for double-jabbed US and EU visitors'

Read more: Boris Johnson hints at possible UK-US travel corridor

Nick then raised the issue of getting more 18 to 29-year-olds vaccinated against Covid-19.

This week, reports suggested that the prime minister was "raging" about the lower uptake among the age group.

Mr Johnson told LBC that the number of people in that bracket in England who have taken the opportunity to be jabbed "is quite stupendous".

"They are coming forward; it's getting on to 70 per cent now, it's fantastic, so all I would say is keep going."

"But if someone refuses a vaccine are they being selfish?" Nick asked.

Mr Johnson replied: "No, I think that I would put it the other way round and say if you get one you’re doing something massively positive for yourself, for your family."

He was then pressed on the certainty of the 16 August date, at which all children under 18 and all double-jabbed adults in England will be exempt from Covid isolation if they come into contact with someone who has the virus.

"August the 16th is nailed on," he told LBC.

"There’s never been any question of a review date for August the 16th. We will go ahead with the move."

Mr Johnson's remarks come with England expected to open borders to allow US and EU travellers who are fully vaccinated to enter without the need to quarantine.

The plans, which would be a boost to the aviation and tourism sectors, are expected to be discussed by ministers later today.

Discussions are also expected between Whitehall officials and the devolved administrations on whether the change would apply to England only, or all four nations of the UK.

The changes are expected as soon as next week, while countries outside the EU and US could be allowed inbound quarantine-free travel at a later date, The Times reports.

It comes after aviation firms claimed a trial has demonstrated the UK can safely exempt fully vaccinated US and EU visitors from self-isolation.

Heathrow Airport, British Airways and Virgin Atlantic said their 10-day pilot scheme proved the vaccination status of travellers can be efficiently and accurately checked away from the border.

Around 250 fully vaccinated passengers on selected flights from New York, Los Angeles, Jamaica and Athens earlier this month presented their credentials using paper or digital formats before boarding the plane.

Some 99% of their documents were verified as authentic, with just two passengers' credentials rejected.

In one case there was a discrepancy between the name on the vaccine card and the name on the passport, while another involved someone who had been fully vaccinated less than 14 days before travel.

The Department for Transport has committed to a formal review of its rules for arriving travellers before Sunday.