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Nightclubs and other venues with large crowds are set to be legally forced to adopt Covid passports from the end of September in a bid to drive up vaccine uptake among younger people.
In a reversal of his previous stance, Boris Johnson has become convinced that such virus status checks should be legally mandated for clubs, according to aides. This would most likely be done by showing the NHS app, which is being updated to show proof of status.
People who are exempted from getting the vaccine would not need to show such proof, according to a well-placed government source.
The end of September has been picked as the likely date because by the middle of that month everyone over the age of 18 in the UK should have been offered two doses of a Covid vaccine.
"As we said last week, we reserve the right to mandate certification at any point, if it is necessary to reduce transmission," Mr Johnson told a press conference on Monday.
"And I should serve notice now that by the end of September, when all over-18s will have had the chance to be double jabbed, we are planning to make full vaccination the condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather."
After a Government review lasting months, it had been decided to let private companies adopt Covid passports if wanted, but not change the law to mandate their use.
The development in parts reflects concerns over the third wave of virus cases in the UK, with close to 50,000 people testing positive each day and further rises expected.
Government scientific advisers have long raised concerns about allowing nightclubs to open at full capacity in the fourth and final stage of reopening in the roadmap out of restrictions. The limited ventilation of most venues and complete lack of social distancing on dance floors triggered fears of rapid Covid spread if someone is infected.
But the move also reflects alarm inside the Government at the drop-off in vaccine uptake among young people, who only in recent weeks have been called forward to get their first jab. By linking club entry to proof of Covid status, it is hoped young people can be newly convinced of the benefits of getting a jab.
Scores of French youngsters signed up to get vaccinated after Emmanuel Macron, the French president, linked entry to bars with providing Covid status.
The move will trigger a battle in Parliament, given that a change to the law is expected to need a vote in both the Commons and the Lords.