Home / News / World /  No Covid-19 lockdowns, vaccine passports in future, says UK Health Minister

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," Javid 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, under fire from some in his governing Conservative Party for raising taxes to fix a health and social care crisis, looks set to try to soothe those critics by ditching plans to introduce passports despite an increasing number of coronavirus cases.

Javid also said that Johnson will this week set out plans to manage the Covid-19 pandemic over the colder months, 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 programme is working," 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 Labour 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," Labour's health policy chief Jonathan Ashworth said.

Javid said there was no deadline for the government to finalize plans for vaccinations in 12- to 15-year-olds. The U.K.’s four chief medical officers are considering the issue, he said.

On Times Radio, Javid said that schools have been preparing for when or if the green light is given. He said he was “confident" of a fast rollout.

U.K. coronavirus cases remain high, but with the vaccine program well advanced -- more than 80% of people over 16 are double-vaccinated -- hospitalizations and deaths have remained lower than in previous waves.

Fall and winter are typically times when illnesses like the coronavirus and flu are on the rise.

Javid said that the U.K. would be making a big push on flu shots, potentially paired with coronavirus boosters, to keep the country as healthy as possible.

“Of course we’ll get Christmas," he said.

(With agencies' inputs)

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