No more lockdowns for the UK, British health secretary Sajid Javid suggests (for now)
By Ramon Tomey // Sep 15, 2021

British Secretary for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid suggests against imposing a lockdown on the United Kingdom. He shares this suggestion with BBC host Nick Robinson on the Sept. 12 edition of The Andrew Marr Show. Javid also announces in the same program that the British government will no longer push through with its plan to adopt vaccine passports.


The health secretary replies to Robinson's question about lockdowns: "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 also assures the BBC host that Britons will be able to enjoy a restriction-free Christmas in December 2021.

Javid also responds to Robinson's concern about the use of vaccine passports for mass events. He tells Robinson: "What I can say is that we've looked at it properly. [While] we should keep it on reserve as a potential option, I am pleased to say we will not be going ahead with plans for vaccine passports." The secretary adds that he "instinctively does not like the idea of people having to show passports to do basic things."

Javid cites the U.K.'s vaccination drive in defense of his statements. "These extraordinary times required necessary but intrusive measures. But I'm determined to get rid of any powers we no longer need because of our vaccine defenses," he says. The health secretary continues: "I will set out the next phase in our [COVID-19] response shortly." Javid's response contrasts to prior announcements from British Prime Minister Boris Johnson almost a year ago.

Back in December 2020, Johnson announced restrictions on Britons set to celebrate the holidays. These included prohibitions on gatherings and closures of non-essential businesses. "It is with a very heavy heart that I must tell you we cannot proceed with Christmas as planned. [When] the virus changes its method of attack, we must change our method of defense," he said that time. (Related: Boris Johnson pauses the idea of vaccine passports for Great Britain… but is likely to restart the effort soon.)

UK businesses oppose vaccine passports

The U.K. has been exploring the prospect of vaccine passports for several months. From their initial use as proof of vaccination for international travel, British authorities are now studying their potential for enabling mass events to be done safely. The British government's Events Research Program (ERP) oversees the use of vaccine passports.

The ERP explores "ways to enable people to attend a range of events safely" by focusing on testing and non-pharmaceutical methods. These ways include pre-attendance testing, temperature checks and good ventilation of indoor spaces. The ERP says strict adherence to these measures contributes to lowering the risk of COVID-19 transmission in large events.

Aside from these, the ERP is also testing the National Health Service (NHS) App as a digital proof of vaccination in some public events. The app shows proof of a negative COVID-19 test, natural immunity or vaccination. Events that require the NHS App as proof include cricket and football games, horse races, fairs and public concerts.

However, many businesses denounce the British government's idea to mandate COVID-19 vaccine passports. Michael Kill, president of the Night-Time Industries Association, says 80 percent of nightclubs do not plan on implementing the system. He adds that difficulties in enforcing the system and a possible reduction in customers turn nightclub owners off to the idea of vaccine passports.

Alistair Richie, who owns the Astoria nightclub in Portsmouth, says the use of vaccine passports "will have a massive impact." He also laments the restrictions on nightclubs ever since the pandemic's onset in March 2020, calling them "a constant flurry of obstacles." Richie adds: "If so many of your friends don't have a vaccine passport, you just won't go out." (Related: Critics slam proposal to require vaccine passports in nightclubs.)

Retired U.K. Supreme Court Justice Jonathan Sumption also joins the parties critical of vaccine passports. He tells BBC Radio 4: "I don't think vaccine passports imposed by the state are a good idea now. [At] the moment, with 70 percent having had both [vaccine doses] – including all vulnerable groups – I think [these passports] are completely unnecessary." has more stories about the U.K.'s response to COVID-19 through lockdown mandates and vaccine passports.

Sources include:

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