Delta variant: Expert on vaccines’ impact on transmissibility
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But Michael Gove, who was chairing a key Cabinet meeting on the issue, decided that he would “go with the minority view”, it was claimed. Shortly after the meeting, Boris Johnson announced at a press conference that he intended “to make full vaccination the condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather” by the end of September. Vaccine passports have proved popular in public polling and it is argued they will allow venues to open up more safely.
However, questions have been raised over whether making entry to venues conditional on vaccination isn’t tantamount to coercion.
Ministers are now questioning whether Mr Gove, Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, has too much power.
One ministerial source pointed to the Cabinet committee meeting on the issue, chaired by Mr Gove. According to the source, Business Minister Paul Scully, whose brief includes nightclubs, was first asked for his view and he described the passport proposal as “unworkable”.
This was said to have been supported by Health Secretary Sajid Javid and Work and Pensions Secretary Therese Coffey. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng was also at the meeting but is understood to have left early.
However, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is said to have suggested that the passports would push young people into having the jab and, according to the source, Mr Gove concluded: “I will go with the minority view”.
A senior minister commented: “It was almost like it didn’t matter what we all said and that Gove had made up his mind already.
“He has far too much power.”
Nevertheless, a source close to Mr Gove insisted he was acting on behalf of the Prime Minister and that other ministers supported his view on going ahead with the vaccine passports. The source said: “Others were in favour, and Michael was acting on a direct No 10 steer.
“Policy was also announced by the PM at a press conference.”
As well as passports for nightclubs, the Government was also looking at making university lectures conditional on being vaccinated. But these plans were dropped last week.
The row has arisen amid continued concerns that young people are being forced to bear the brunt of measures to tackle a disease which poses a lower risk to them.
The Sunday Express has launched the Generation Lockdown crusade to demand more support for young people coming out of the pandemic.
Teenager India Johnston attacked the way that the Government has acted and said that the policies were discriminating against her generation.
She said: “The lockdown made things so much worse.
“Why is it that the last things to open are things that are for our generation?
“Why is it that theatres and restaurants are open and yet we are told that we may not be able to go to a lecture theatre or a nightclub without a vaccine passport?”
She went on: “The policy has always been unfair on children. We’ve never been a priority. I don’t expect to be a priority but this just shows where the Government’s priorities are.
“Have they ever put us first?” Jennie Bristow, author and senior lecturer in sociology at Canterbury Christ Church University, warned of long-term harm to young people caused by some Government policies.
She pointed out many rites of passage that had been taken for granted by teenagers are now being missed.
She said: “The school prom, the driving test, the clubbing experience, the group holiday, the university graduation ceremony.
“All of these things have been callously snatched from their grasp, presented as dangerous luxuries rather than important moments in their development.”
She added: “To add insult to injury, we have ignored the role they have played in getting us through the pandemic.”
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