Zahawi clarified that getting a vaccine ought to be voluntary, but businesses might be able to use a contact tracing phone app that could include a person’s vaccine status.
“I think you’d probably find that restaurants and bars and cinemas and other venues, sports venues, will probably also use that system as they’ve done with the app,” Zahawi told the BBC.
He added: “The sort of pressure will come both ways: from service providers – who will say ‘look, demonstrate to us that you have been vaccinated’ – but also we will make the technology as easy and accessible as possible.’” Zahawi told the BBC.
Asked whether he thought it would be possible to do anything without the vaccine he said, “people have to make a decision but I think you’ll probably find many service providers will want to engage in this in the way they did with the app.”
Zahawi is overseeing the country’s biggest vaccine program in decades. His comments on a possible app come as the the U.K. is currently assessing two vaccines — one developed by Pfizer and BioNTech, the other by Oxford University and AstraZeneca — to see if they are safe and effective. The Guardian newspaper reported that hospitals have been told they could receive the first doses of the Pfizer shot the week of Dec. 7, if it receives approval.
Britain has ordered 40 million doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, enough for 20 million people, and 100 million doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine.
The British government hopes a combination of vaccines and mass testing will end the need for restrictions on business and everyday life it imposed to curb the spread of the coronavirus. Britain has had Europe’s deadliest COVID-19 outbreak, with more than 57,000 confirmed virus-related deaths.
A four-week national lockdown in England is due to end Wednesday, and will be replaced by three-tiered system of regional measures that restrict business activity, travel and socializing. The vast majority of the country is being put into the upper two tiers.
The Associated contributed to this report.