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Fact check: The UK government said it will review the efficacy and ethics of vaccine passports

A Facebook post claiming the UK government secretly asked pubs and restaurants to sign documents confirming they will enforce COVID-19 vaccine passports has circulated online. The status also claims the government is waiting seven weeks before relaxing lockdown to allow time for the documents to be returned. However, there is no evidence to support this.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

The claim was made in a screenshot on Feb. 26 shared more than 180 times and read: “A friend of mine owns a restaurant, and the Government have written to them asking them to sign a document, that they won’t let anyone in there unless they have a Covid passport, that’s why the government are waiting another 7 weeks to allow everyone out, so that they can get these documents back.’ (here)

The post appeared elsewhere with similar wording, suggesting it was likely a copy-and-paste status shared via Facebook groups and closed messaging apps (here , here and here), as well as on Twitter.

However, there is no evidence of the ‘letters’ or ‘documents’ mentioned in the social media posts, nor have any media reported on this move, which would be expected had it occurred.

A spokesperson for the government’s Department for Health and Social Care said: “Our position on [Covid passports] is laid out in the roadmap.

“The Government will review whether COVID-status certification could play a role in reopening our economy, reducing restrictions on social contact and improving safety.”

The ‘roadmap’ explains that the government will consider the extent to which vaccine passports would be effective alongside ‘the ethical, equalities, privacy, legal and operational aspects of this approach and what limits, if any, should be placed on organisations using certification’ (here).

Reuters reported on Feb. 22 that Michael Gove will lead the review (here).

The debate, however, is ongoing. Some ministers have expressed support for passports, including British finance minister Rishi Sunak, who said on Feb. 28 they could allow people to enter venues or events and help the country’s economy recover from the coronavirus pandemic (here).

Yet the chief executive of trade association UKHospitality, Kate Nicholls, said vaccine passports “will likely lead to headaches, place an extra burden on staff and cut revenue needlessly at a time when businesses cannot afford it”, according to ITV news on Feb. 24 (here).

Wetherspoon founder and chairman Tim Martin maintains that pubs and restaurants should open sooner than the roadmap allows as COVID-secure environments, according to the Independent and Sky News (here and here).

VERDICT

False. There is no evidence the UK government has sent letters to pubs or restaurants asking for signatures confirming the use of COVID-19 vaccine passports.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .

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