Coronavirus UK latest: MPs slam 'discriminatory' Covid vaccine passports as pubs face tougher rules

MPS have slammed "discriminatory" coronavirus vaccine passports as pubs face tougher entry rules when they reopen later this month.

Boris Johnson is facing a rebellion to his plans, which have been criticised by backbenchers, and 72 cross-party MPs are preparing to join forces and try to block it.

Labour peer Baroness Chakrabarti told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It's dangerous, it's discriminatory, it's counter-productive."

The former director of human rights organisation Liberty also warned that using coronavirus certificates could create a "checkpoint Britain" as she urged for the country to "open up together" as restrictions ease.

Theatres and stadiums could be the first to pilot the scheme before being expanded to restaurants and pubs, according to the Daily Mail.

The PM could update the country on the progress of vaccine passport plans as soon as Monday, when he is expected to report the results of a study led by Michael Gove.

Included in the rebel MPs are 40 Tories and six ex-Cabinet ministers – who have vowed to block the “divisive and discriminatory” jab passports.

Organised by the pressure group Big Brother Watch, the 72 MPs, including Jeremy Corbyn and Sir Iain Duncan Smith, are mounting pressure on the Government to halt plans for Covid status certification.

Read our coronavirus live blog below for the very latest news and updates on the pandemic

  • Hana Carter

    MORE COUNTRIES ADDED TO THE UK'S TRAVEL RED LIST

    Four more countries have been added to the UK's travel red list – banning all visitors over fears of Covid variants.

    International travellers from the Philippines, Pakistan, Kenya and Bangladesh will be refused entry into England from 4am on Friday, April 9.

    Only people with British and Irish citizenship – or residence rights in the UK – will be allowed to enter England from next Friday.

    But Brits who do arrive from these countries will be required to self-isolate in a government-approved hotel quarantine facility for 10 days – costing £1,750 per person.

  • Dan Keane

    MOST PUBS MAY NOT REOPEN UNDER CURRENT PLANS, TRADE BODY SAYS

    Only 40 per cent of pubs will have the outdoor space to reopen as some restrictions in England ease in April – and they will be "loss making", a hospitality industry chief has said.

    There are around 37,500 pubs in England which could in theory open outdoors from April 12.

    But just 40 per cent of those – 15,000 – have a big enough outdoor space or beer garden to welcome back drinkers or be financially viable, according to the British Beer & Pub Association (BBPA).

  • Dan Keane

    PHILIPPINES SEES RECORD HIGH IN CASES

    The Philippines has reported a daily record of 15,310 new coronavirus infections, one of the highest reported in the region since the pandemic started.

    It brings the country's total to 771,497 cases.

    Meanwhile, the country announced 17 new deaths, taking fatalities to 13,320.

  • Dan Keane

    MHRA IDENTIFIES 30 RARE CASES OF BLOOD CLOTS LINKED TO OXFORD JAB

    The Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) says it has identified 30 cases of rare blood clot events associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine.

    This is out of 18.1 million doses administered up to and including March 24, the agency said.

    It said there were no reports for the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine but stressed the risk associated with this type of blood clot is "very small" and the benefits of the vaccines against Covid-19 "continue to outweigh any risks".

  • Dan Keane

    MINISTER DEFENDS VACCINE PASSPORTS

    Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden said that coronavirus certificates could be a way of getting people back to "doing the things they love".

    "Michael Gove, the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, is conducting a review, which I am of course participating in, as to whether we could make Covid status certification work," he told BBC News.

    "This is not about a vaccine passport, this is about looking at ways of proving that you are Covid secure, whether you have had a test or had the vaccine.

    "Clearly, no decisions have been made on that, because we have to weigh up different factors, the ethical considerations and so on, but it may be a way of ensuring we can get more people back doing the things they love."

  • Dan Keane

    ONLY BRITISH & IRISH CITIZENS ALLOWED TO ENTER FROM BANNED COUNTRIES

    The DfT said only British and Irish citizens, or those with residence rights in the UK, will be allowed to enter from countries on the red list – and they must stay in a Government-approved quarantine facility for 10 days.

    They will also be required to arrive into a designated port.

    No direct flight bans from the countries will be put in place but passengers are being advised to check their travel plans before departing for England.

  • Dan Keane

    BREAKING: NEW TRAVEL BANS INTRODUCED

    Travel bans are to be introduced for visitors from the Philippines, Pakistan, Kenya and Bangladesh, the Department of Transport has said.

    The countries have been added to England's so-called red list amid concerns about new Covid-19 variants from South Africa and Brazil.

    From 4am on Friday April 9, international visitors who have departed from or transited through the Philippines, Pakistan, Kenya and Bangladesh in the previous 10 days will be refused entry into England.

  • Dan Keane

    ALL KIDS IN THE UK COULD NEED JAB TO KEEP SCHOOLS OPEN

    All kids in the UK could have to be vaccinated to keep schools open if Covid infections spike again, says a government adviser.

    In a huge boost for the fight against coronavirus, Pfizer said trials of its vaccine in children aged 12 to 15 showed 100 per cent efficacy and a strong immune response.

    Vaccinating kids may help "keep things functioning normally across society", according to Professor Adam Finn, a member of the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

    Prof Finn said decisions on jabbing kids "will come later in the summer", depending on "whether it's going to be necessary to immunise children as well in order to keep the virus under control.

    "The important aspect of that for children is that we desperately want to keep schools open into the next academic year and avoid any further disruption to education."

  • Dan Keane

    CARE HOME RESIDENTS HAVE BEEN 'IGNORED' DURING PANDEMIC, CAMPAIGNERS CLAIM

    Julia Jones, co-founder of John's Campaign, which is challenging Government guidance that bans visits out of care homes for residents aged 65 and over, said residents had been "comprehensively ignored" during the pandemic.

    She told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "The first point they did this was July last year, they said they are looking into guidance for visits out of care homes. And they have been looking into it ever since.

    "People living in care homes are people very often living towards the end of their lives, or they are people living with a learning disability, for whom their wellbeing is dependent on their routines.

    "These people have been comprehensively ignored."

  • Dan Keane

    UK WON'T SEE EUROPE'S THIRD WAVE

    The UK is unlikely to experience a third wave of Covidon the scale of that which is currently sweeping through Europe, a leading expert in public health has said.

    Linda Bauld, professor of public health at the University of Edinburgh, told Times Radio: "I think we are in a very different position for two main reasons – the first one is that they are dealing with the B117 (variant) which unfortunately we exported to them and caused us huge challenges – still does – but much more in the winter."

    She continued: "More importantly, 11.6% of citizens in the EU on average have been given their first dose of the vaccine – that's all people, not just all adults – compared to over 40% of people in the UK, so you can see they are in a different place than we are."

  • Dan Keane

    JAB PASSPORTS 'COULD SCUPPER' HOSPITALITY REOPENING

    Introducing vaccine passports could potentially "scupper things" for hospitality venues who are trying to reopen, Ms McClarkin added.

    On whether life could be made easier for businesses by vaccine passports as it could mean there is no need for them to track and trace, she told BBC Breakfast: "This would be an additional burden put on to the pubs.

    "We are desperate to get back open again. We are desperate to do that.

    "We will play our part in test and trace but the additional burden of the vaccine passport could really, really scupper things."

  • Dan Keane

    PUB BOSSES URGE GOVT TO MAKE REOPENING SIMPLE

    Emma McClarkin, chief executive of the British Beer and Pub Association, has urged the Government to "just make it practical for venues to try and recover their businesses" as some restrictions are set to ease in April.

    She explained that under the guidance people will be able to go inside to use the toilets but they are not allowed to go inside the venue to pay for alcoholic beverages.

    She told BBC Breakfast: "This is a problem for many of our pubs, particularly those in rural areas, that perhaps do not have a wifi that extends to an outdoor area and where payment for them at the table would be impossible for them.

    "It is just an impracticality for many businesses."

    She asked the Government to show some "common sense" and suggested that if people can go in to use the bathroom, then they should be allowed to socially-distance to pay at the bar.

  • Dan Keane

    BORIS FACES VACCINE PASSPORT REBELLION

    Boris Johnson is facing a rebellion over his Covid passport plan as 72 cross-party MPs join forces and prepare to block it.

    Included in the rebels are 40 Tories and six ex-Cabinet ministers – who have vowed to block the "divisive and discriminatory" jab passports.

    Organised by the pressure group Big Brother Watch, the 72 MPs, including Jeremy Corbyn and Sir Iain Duncan Smith, are mounting pressure on the Government to halt plans for Covid status certification.

    It has also been backed by a string of Tory former ministers including Esther McVey, Nus Ghani, Mark Harper and Harriett Baldwin.

  • Dan Keane

    STAY AT HOME ORDER LIFTED IN SCOTLAND

    The stay-at-home order across Scotland has been lifted.

    From today, the order changed from stay at home to stay local, allowing for travel within a local authority area for non-essential purposes.

    From Monday, hairdressers and barbers can reopen for pre-booked appointments, click and collect shopping will be permitted, and homeware shops and garden centres can welcome back customers.

    University and college students can also return for in-person teaching and outdoor contact sports for 12-17-year olds may resume.

  • Dan Keane

    CRICKET LEGEND ADMITTED TO HOSPITAL WITH COVID

    Indian cricket great Sachin Tendulkar has been admitted to hospital as a precaution as he battles coronavirus.

    The 47-year-old, who tested positive for Covid-19 last weekend, revealed the development on social media.

    A post on his official Twitter account said: "Thank you for your wishes and prayers.

    "As a matter of abundant precaution under medical advice, I have been hospitalised. I hope to be back home in a few days. Take care and stay safe everyone."

    Credit: PA:Press Association
  • Dan Keane

    LABOUR PEER HITS OUT AT VACCINE PASSPORTS

    Labour peer Baroness Shami Chakrabarti, a member of a cross-party group of politicians warning against introducing vaccine passports, has called their possible use a "tool of discrimination, oppression and bullying".

    The former shadow attorney general told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "It's dangerous, it's discriminatory, it's counter-productive.

    "It seems to me, and many others, that on the one hand, if this level of intrusion into our lives were to be proportionate, then probably it's not safe to open up the economy.

    "On the other hand, if it is safe to open up the economy, to come out of this lockdown and this crisis that we have been living under, if it is safe to do that, why create this tool of discrimination, oppression and bullying?"

  • Joseph Gamp

    INFECTIONS COULD REBOUND IF WORKPLACES ARE NOT COVID-SECURE – TUC

    Coronavirus cases could rebound if workplaces are not Covid-secure, union leaders are warning.

    The TUC said the vaccine rollout and testing in workplaces should not be used as an excuse for relaxing safety rules affecting workers.

    The union organisation urged employers to update their risk assessments to take account of the importance of ventilation, and said any activity which can be conducted outside should be allowed.

    A TUC survey of more than 2,000 union safety representatives published this week showed that one in four were unaware of a risk assessment taking place in their workplace in the last two years.

    Officials added that companies should try to persuade staff to get the vaccine, but not make it a condition of employment.

  • Joseph Gamp

    MINISTERS WARNED AGAINST INTRODUCING DOMESTIC VACCINE PASSPORTS

    Ministers have been warned against introducing vaccine passports in England by a cross-party group of politicians including senior Conservative MPs and former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.

    More than 70 MPs, including 40 Conservatives, as well as peers from the House of Lords, have launched a campaign to oppose the move which they say would be "divisive and discriminatory".

    It comes as a report in The Daily Telegraph suggested a series of pilot tests for Covid passports were being planned which could include the FA Cup final and other sporting events in May, although Number 10 maintained any proposals were still under review.

    But a pledge, signed by Mr Corbyn as well as other prominent figures such as Conservative former leader Sir Iain Duncan-Smith, Labour former shadow chancellor John McDonnell and ex-Lib Dem leader Tim Farron, warned the Government against bringing in the scheme.

    It has also been backed by a string of Tory former ministers including Esther McVey, Nus Ghani, Mark Harper and Harriett Baldwin.

  • Joseph Gamp

    FOREIGN HOLIDAY HOTSPOTS 'WILL BE GRADED USING TRAFFIC LIGHT SYSTEM'

    Foreign getaway destinations will be ranked under a traffic light system, with fewer restrictions tied to the places boasting the lowest coronavirus rates and high vaccination take-up, it has been reported.

    Countries will be graded either green, amber or red, according to how well they are coping with the pandemic, it was claimed.

    Hesitancy towards the vaccine across parts of mainland Europe may mean that favoured continental destinations among British holidaymakers are deemed more high-risk than the likes of the US and Israel, where vaccination rates are good.

    Overseas holidays are currently banned due to the UK's coronavirus lockdown measures, but Boris Johnson plans to make an announcement on Easter Monday about lifting restrictions in England.

    The Times reported that travel to and from so-called red-list countries will be banned, although the Sun newspaper said those arriving back in the UK from such destinations will have to pay to stay at quarantine hotels, as is the current set-up for the worst affected countries.

  • Joseph Gamp

    MATT HANCOCK SAYS HE'S 'VERY WORRIED' ABOUT NEW ONS DATA REVEALING THE IMPACT OF LONG COVID

    Matt Hancock says he’s ‘very worried’ about new ONS data revealing the impact of Long Covid

  • Joseph Gamp

    EMERGENT SAYS IT HAS DISPOSED OF SPOILT COVID-19 VACCINE BATCH

    Johnson & Johnson's manufacturing partner Emergent Biosolutions said on Thursday that it had discarded the single batch of COVID-19 drug substance that did not meet specifications.

    J&J on Wednesday said it had found a problem with a batch of the drug substance for its COVID-19 vaccine being produced at Emergent's site in Baltimore, Maryland.

    The New York Times reported on Wednesday that about 15 million doses were ruined, without citing a source.

    "Discarding a batch of bulk drug substance, while disappointing, does occasionally happen during vaccine manufacturing, which is a complex and multi-step biological process," Emergent said.

  • Joseph Gamp

    BRAZIL REPORTS 91,097 NEW CORONAVIRUS CASES, 3,769 DEATHS IN 24 HOURS

    Brazil recorded 91,097 additional confirmed cases of the novel coronavirus in the past 24 hours, along with 3,769 deaths from COVID-19, the Health Ministry said on Thursday.

    Brazil has registered nearly 13 million cases since the pandemic began, while the official death toll has risen to 325,284, according to ministry data

  • Joseph Gamp

    COVID PASSPORT TRIALS ‘TO START IN WEEKS’ AT EVENTS INCLUDING WEMBLEY FA CUP

    Covid passsports will be trialled in the UK this month – and Brits heading to the FA Cup Final and the World Snooker Championship will have to test negative first.

    A trial for the scheme – which eventually could allow bars and big events to abandon social distancing – will be unrolled within weeks.

    It comes as the Government forges ahead with the idea, despite a growing rebellion from MPs.

    The Telegraph reports that new details of around a dozen pilot schemes will be announced in the coming days.

    The FA Cup final, an FA Cup semi-final, the League Cup final and the World Snooker Championship are taking part, with the Brit Awards also in discussions.

  • Joseph Gamp

    POLICE WARN AGAINST LARGE EASTER WEEKEND GATHERINGS

    Britain's biggest police force is warning people not to gather in large groups over the Easter weekend following an easing of Covid-19 restrictions.

    Forecasters said a "big swing" in weather conditions could bring gale-force winds and even snow to parts of the UK over the bank holiday, while parts of the South would hang on to warmer conditions for the longest.

    The cooler temperatures could limit scenes of revelry seen in packed parks and beauty spots around the country during almost record-breaking March conditions earlier this week.

    But the change in weather could tempt people to meet up inside, which is still banned under coronavirus regulations, except for those in the same household or support bubble.

    While groups of six, or two households, are allowed to meet outside, the Metropolitan Police said larger gatherings, including house parties and illegal raves, will be shut down.

  • Joseph Gamp

    PFIZER SAYS ITS VACCINE CONTINUES TO BE EFFECTIVE AGAINST COVID-19 UP TO SIX MONTHS LATER.

    Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, announced updated results Thursday from their ongoing late-stage study of more than 44,000 volunteers.

    The companies said the vaccine was 91% effective against symptomatic disease and was even more protective in preventing severe disease. Of 927 confirmed COVID-19 cases detected through March 13, 77 were among people who received the vaccine and 850 were among people who got dummy shots.

    There were no serious safety concerns and the vaccine also appeared to work against a variant first detected in South Africa, the companies said.

    The U.K. and U.S. gave the emergency green light to roll out Pfizers vaccine late last year followed by many other countries. The vaccine is authorized for ages 16 and up.

    This week, the companies said the vaccine is safe and strongly protective in kids as young as 12, based on a study of 2,260 U.S. volunteers.

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