British health minister Sajid Javid said on Sunday he did not expect the country to see any more lockdowns to fight the COVID-19 crisis and ruled out the use of vaccine passports to allow people to attend mass events.
“I am not anticipating any more lockdowns. I think it would be irresponsible for any health minister around the world to take everything off the table but I just don’t see how we get to another lockdown,” he told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show.
Asked about so-called COVID passports, Javid added: “What I can say is that we’ve looked at it properly and whilst we should keep it in reserve as a potential option, I am pleased to say we will not going be going ahead with plans for vaccine passports.”
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson will this week set out plans to manage the COVID-19 pandemic over the colder months, his health minister said on Sunday, suggesting the government could remove some restrictions by relying on vaccines.
“Now that we’re entering autumn and winter ... the prime minister this week will be setting out our plans to manage COVID over the coming few months and in that we will be making it clear that our vaccine program is working,” Sajid Javid told Sky News.
“Of course we still want to remain very cautious, and there are some things, when it comes to travel for example, there are some rules that have to remain in place, but the PCR test that’s required upon your return to the UK from certain countries, look I want to try to get rid of that as soon as I can.”
Britain, which has one of the highest official COVID-19 death tolls in the world, has seen the number of cases climb over the last few months after easing restrictions in July, when the government first bet on vaccines to protect the public.
The government was handed sweeping emergency powers in March 2020 with the introduction of the Coronavirus Act, which included measures to allow the authorities to bar protests, shut down businesses and restrict travel.
The main opposition Labor Party said it agreed it was a “reasonable” approach to take some measures off the statute book but that lawmakers would study the detail of the proposals.
“Obviously we will want to study the detail when it comes to parliament, because there have been huge concerns about the way in which the Coronavirus Act has been misused by the authorities,” Labor’s health policy chief Jonathan Ashworth said.