18:15 GMT12 May 2021
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    UK PM Boris Johnson's reported change of heart on pubs and restaurants came after scientists and academics flat-out rejected any form of "immunity documentation" and said it was time for British people to "take back control" of their lives.

    British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has reportedly scrapped plans for COVID-19 "vaccine passports" for diners and drinkers.

    The news came after tens of thousands joined an anti-lockdown protest in London — and 22 scientists and academics signed a letter opposing any such measures.

    Unnamed Downing Street sources said the PM had abandoned the idea he floated last month of extending a "Covid certification scheme" for large public events to the hospitality sector, the Mail Online reported.

    "I would be amazed if we introduce Covid certification for hospitality this summer", one source said. "The focus is more on big events and reopening sectors that we struggled to open last year".

    But other sources said the COVID passport — which could take the form of a mobile phone app showing whether the user has been vaccinated — could still be extended to pubs, cafes and restaurants later in the year if the predicted third wave of infections materialises. Hospitality have been allowed to serve customers outdoors since 12 April. 

    Johnson indicated a shift in focus away from hospitality last week, saying: "What we are looking at – what I think any responsible government would look at – is how we use people’s Covid status to open up those things that are very tough and did prove very tough to open last year".

    Academic Revolt

    The open letter published on Sunday, from scholars and experts including Nottingham Trent University Professor Robert Dingwall, said it was time for people to “take back control of their own lives” — and rejected vaccine passports outright.

    “All consideration of immunity documentation should cease”, the 22 signatories wrote.

    Education Department orders for secondary-level pupils to wear face masks at school "should never have been extended beyond Easter and should cease no later than May 17", they said, referring to the next key date on the government roadmap. “Mandatory face coverings, physical distancing and mass community testing should cease no later than June 21 along with other controls and impositions".

    “We have learned that a good society cannot be created by obsessive focus on a single cause of ill-health", the letter wrapped up. “Having endured the ravages of 2020, things are very different as we enter the spring of 2021. It is more than time for citizens to take back control of their own lives”.

    As many as 50,000 people marched through London on Saturday to demand the lifting of coronavirus lockdown restrictions and rejecting the certification scheme.

    Arguments for accelerating the government's "roadmap" out of lockdown — currently set to end entirely on 21 June — were given a boost when the Department of Health announced that half the British population of 67 million had been immunised with at least one dose by the end of Friday, and 12 million had had their second. Another half-million booster jabs were given on Saturday, setting the UK on course to fully inoculate the 15 million most at-risk people by next weekend.

    Related:

    'Divisive and Discriminatory': 70 UK MPs Sign Pledge to Oppose Government's COVID Passport Plans
    WHO Does Not Back COVID-19 Vaccine Passports For Time Being, Spokesperson Confirms
    Hawaii to Expand 'Vaccine Passport' Program for Out-of-State Travel by Summer - Report
    Tags:
    vaccination, vaccine, Boris Johnson, lockdown, coronavirus, COVID-19
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