Boris Johnson reportedly asked Tory Members of Parliament (MPs) to bring their Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) passports or provide a recent negative test result to attend a party at his residence on 10 Downing Street. The party, which was held on Sept. 7, was for Johnson to meet with Conservative MPs elected prior to 2009. The COVID-19 entry requirements were enforced due to “security and safety reasons.”
Some MPs had threatened to show up at the event without proof of vaccination. In an interview with The Telegraph, Conservative MP for New Forest West, Sir Desmond Swayne, stated that if he were asked to produce proof of vaccination, he would “politely decline.” He said, “There are other parties.”
Another MP questioned why lawmakers had to submit vaccine passports to meet up with the prime minister at Downing Street when they interact without passports in Parliament.
“Given it is not the law and colleagues are mixing with each other in Parliament it makes no sense. Will there be bouncers turning MPs away?” William Wragg, a Conservative MP, said to The Telegraph. A source in the Johnson administration eventually cleared the matter, stating that “no one will be denied entry” even without proof of vaccination.
The party debacle gained publicity as the Johnson administration developed plans to introduce vaccine passport requirements at venues such as nightclubs. Despite concerns raised by those in the hospitality industry, vaccine passports are slated to affect nightclubs and other venues by the end of this month.
Citizens can get the government’s National Health Service (NHS) COVID pass if they are fully vaccinated, have developed natural immunity, or recently tested negative for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Large events like festivals are already using QR code scanners to check for NHS COVID passes before allowing people to participate.
In an interview with the BBC, Michael Kill from the Night-Time Industries Association called the government decision “almost surreal.” He accused ministers of expecting venues to be ready for changes when the government itself lacks clear-cut answers to many questions.
“Staffing, technology, everything’s got to be put in place. So it’s a real concern that they’re leaving this ’til the last minute… It’s just so little so late for something which is quite a considerable impact on our sector – way too little too late in terms of information and communication,” Kill said.
Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi insisted that the use of COVID-19 certificates is “the right thing to do” because large numbers of people interacting in close quarters could cause “a real spike in infections.”
“As predicted the government has reheated their Covid ID card scheme. They are divisive, unworkable, and expensive and the Liberal Democrats will oppose them,” Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats, said on Twitter.
The government of Scotland is also planning to institute similar vaccine mandates. However, there is growing opposition to such measures.