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Nadhim Zahawi, UK government minister responsible for COVID-19 screenshot

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LONDON, England, July 22, 2021 (LifeSiteNews) – Following British Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Monday announcement that so-called vaccine passports will be mandatory for entry into venues “where large crowds gather,” the minister responsible for the COVID-19 vaccine rollout confirmed the plan to Parliament, adding that private businesses will be permitted to implement the requirement. 

Johnson addressed the nation on Monday – popularly referred to by British media as “Freedom Day,” owing to the relaxation of mask mandates and some other COVID-related restrictions – on plans to implement a requirement for proof of vaccination against COVID for entry to venues in which large crowds are likely to gather. Despite being “Freedom Day,” Johnson made his announcement over video link from self-isolation at Chequers, the prime minister’s country retreat, instead of Downing Street. 

In a statement to the House of Commons on Thursday morning, Nadhim Zahawi, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment, confirmed the government’s intention to require proof of vaccination against the novel coronavirus, emphasizing the possibility of a wide implementation of the system. “The Pass has an important role to play in slowing the spread of the virus and so we reserve the right to mandate its use in the future,” he said. 

Zahawi stated that “full vaccination” will be “a condition of entry to those high-risk settings where large crowds gather and interact” by the end of September. The vaccine minister qualified that “[a]lthough we don’t encourage its use in essential settings, like supermarkets, other businesses and organisation in England can adopt the Pass as a means of entry where it’s suitable for their venue or premises and when they can see its potential to keep their clients or their customers safe.” Negative COVID tests will “no longer be sufficient” as a proof of immunity or health for entering premises with the requirement in place. 

The open-ended nature of the announcement, simply placing the requirement for proof of vaccination upon any venue where large crowds might gather, sparked speculation among media outlets as to which buildings might fall into this category. So far, only nightclubs have been mentioned in this regard by the prime minister. 

TalkRADIO, a popular British news broadcaster, tweeted after  Zahawi’s Thursday announcement, adding their own comment that the mandate could reasonably be presumed to apply to “churches, cinemas” as well as nightclubs, as previously announced. 

LifeSiteNews contacted the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), within which Zahawi operates, to confirm whether churches will be subject to the new imposition. The DHSC was not able to confirm if church buildings will require vaccination for entry or any other venues beyond those already announced by cabinet ministers. Equally, the department did not rule out the possibility that an announcement could be made detailing a requirement for churches to ask for COVID vaccination proof before legally granting entry. The department spokesman told LifeSite that more details are expected “in due course” and to “watch this space.” 

However, in response to questions after Zahawi’s Thursday address to Parliament about the upcoming Conservative Party conference, slated to be held just as vaccine requirements for “large gatherings” come into force, he said that the COVID pass requirement would primarily apply to “large unstructured outdoor events, such as business events and festivals, or very large structured events, such as business events, music and spectator sport events.” The minister added that it would not apply to entry into “public buildings,” but he avoided answering a direct query about how the law would apply to “political gatherings,” the Telegraph reported

It was later confirmed by the Daily Mail that vaccination would be checked as a condition of entry to the conference, prompting Conservative MP Mark Jenkinson to declare in a tweet that “I won’t be going to conference if we’re excluding people on the basis of vaccination their status,” despite being double jabbed himself.  

Fellow Tory MP Steve Baker, who also acts as deputy chairman of the Covid Recovery Group, confirmed his intention to forgo the conference on the same grounds, as did newly created peer Baroness Helena Morrissey.