People may need three jabs to use controversial Covid passports for entry to large venues by January, the Health Secretary warned last night.
Sajid Javid told the Commons that people will only be considered ‘fully vaccinated’ once they have had their booster, and that three doses will be required for vaccine passports once all eligible adults in England have had ‘a reasonable chance’ to get the next jab.
But he refused to clarify when these changes would come into force, as confusion mounts over whether the Prime Minister’s promise in Sunday’s TV address means everybody will have had their booster by December 31 or will just be offered a third dose by then.
In a massively ambitious move, Boris Johnson brought forward the deadline to offer all over-18s a third jab by New Year’s Day as he warned the country: ‘There is a tidal wave of Omicron coming.’
But concerns about whether the Government could even hit the goal were raised almost immediately after Mr Johnson’s 8pm televised announcement last night.Even at the height of the NHS’s vaccine drive in March, the health service never managed more than 850,000 jabs a day.
Britons faced a five-hour queue for booster shots at St Thomas’ hospital in Westminster on Monday, after officials reportedly assigned only four staff members to rolling out the jabs.The hospital said everyone in the queue would get a vaccine.
There were reports of queues at vaccination centres dotted across the country, including in Kidlington, Belfast, Manchester and parts of London. Younger people were also turned away in the confusion as they tried to get booster jabs.Staff at the Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium allowed those in their 20s in while others were declined.
From 6am on Wednesday, people will need to show proof of two jabs or a negative lateral flow test in order to enter nightclubs and large venues.Under the new regulations, published barely 24 hours before tomorrow’s vote, people could be fined £10,000 if they try to falsify a Covid pass or test result.
Mr Javid’s extraordinary statement comes amid murmurings of a large Tory rebellion to Boris Johnson’s so-called ‘Plan B’ restrictions, which include the passports as well as orders to work from home and compulsory facemasks for further public spaces. The Conservative backbenchers are particularly opposed to the use of Covid passes and believe the restrictions are unjustified.
The measures are expected to be approved with Labour’s support, but the revolt would be the biggest of Mr Johnson’s premiership so far.Tory whips on Monday launched a desperate operation to curb the rebellion amid reports around 80 MPs could vote against the restrictions.
In the past week, the Government has been accused of throwing rule-breaking Christmas parties at Downing Street last year, while gatherings across the country were criminalised.
On Monday, Mr Johnson said MPs thinking of rebelling against the measures needed to recognise there was ‘no room for complacency’ in dealing with the Omicron variant.
As the coronavirus crisis enters its latest crucial phase:
- Sir Keir Starmer announced he is supporting the Government’s new Covid crackdown as he urged people to ‘stick to the rules’ to help prevent the NHS from being ‘overwhelmed’ by Omicron;
- The entire NHS England was put on the highest level of alert for the first time since March after the UK’s Omicron outbreak surged by 50 per cent in a day;
- Britain has suffered its first death from Omicron, the Prime Minister revealed on a visit to a vaccination clinic near Paddington. However, experts are demanding answers about the UK’s first Omicron fatality, such as the individual’s vaccination status, if they were part of group vulnerable to Covid, and if the virus was the leading cause of death;
- GPs fumed they found out about the jabbing goal at the same time as the rest of the nation, and NHS bosses warned it would take ‘time’ to get the scaled up programme ‘fully up and running’;
- Former Cabinet minister David Davis and Labour MPs slammed the Government for failing to ramp up the booster drive in September, and warned the ‘vaccine wall of defence was crumbling’;
- Sajid Javid said that patients waiting for elective surgery such as hip replacements could see their treatment postponed as the NHS races to roll out a million jabs a day.He promised, however, that critical care for cancer patients would be unaffected;
- Both Scotland and Wales dangled the possibility of having to impose tougher restrictions as Boris Johnson failed to rule out more measures for England.
Sajid Javid told MPs that every adult across England could expect to be offered a ‘chance to get boosted by the end of this month’ though he suggested not everyone would get a dose in December