Sajid Javid said the government will “not continue” plans for vaccine passports to gain access to nightclubs and other crowded events in England.
It had been planned that the public would have to provide evidence that they had received two doses of a Covid-19 vaccine in order to gain access to clubs and other major events in England.
But in a U-turn on Sunday, following a backlash from Tory MPs, the health minister said the idea had been scrapped.
He told the BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show, “I never liked the idea of telling people to show your papers or something in order to do what is just an everyday activity, but we were right about it to look at properly.
“We got this right and should keep it in reserve as a possible option, but I am pleased to announce that we will not be pursuing the vaccine passport plans.”
The announcement came shortly after the minister appeared on Sky News telling host Trevor Phillips that a final decision was pending.
When asked about politics, Mr. Javid said, “We looked at this. We were open about this. Instinctively, I don’t like the idea at all that people have to, say, produce papers in order to do basic things.
“If we do that, it has to be something that will be examined very carefully and that we believe must be done with no alternative.
“In view of the increasing vaccination rates – for example with 16 and 17 year olds we only started last month, now over 50% of 16 and 17 year olds have already been vaccinated – in my opinion we have to take that into account and make a final decision, but I hope we can avoid it. “
He added, “I’m not here today to rule that out. As a government, we have not yet made a final decision. “
Vaccination passes had sparked growing unrest in the ranks of the Tory and faced opposition from opposition parties and industry representatives.
Vaccination Minister Nadhim Zahawi faced a violent backlash when he defended politics in the lower house on Wednesday. Tory MPs accused the government of having an “unnecessary fight” with them.
He said, “It’s nothing … we do it lightly, it’s something that allows us to move this virus from a pandemic to an endemic status.”
The decision means that Covid measures in England will again differ from those in Scotland, where a motion to introduce them was passed in the Scottish Parliament on Thursday, while a decision is expected in Wales next week.
Stormont ministers have not yet found an official position on the use of vaccine access passports in Northern Ireland.