Workers being double-jabbed before returning to the office is a “good idea” but will not be a legal requirement, a Cabinet minister has said, as he ruled out Covid passports for pubs and shops.
The Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, said some companies will require their staff to be fully vaccinated but that the Government will not make it legislation.
It comes as Covid infections in households across most of the UK rose, reaching their highest level in England and Northern Ireland since the end of January.
The only part of the UK to see a fall was Scotland, according to the Office for National Statistics estimates which provide a snapshot of the level of infection for the week to July 24.
The Government has faced demands to recall Parliament amid concerns Covid vaccine passports have been introduced by “stealth” via the NHS app.
A tweak to the wording on the NHS Covid Pass section has raised concerns, as it now includes a “domestic” section, which states: “You may need to show your NHS Covid Pass at places that have chosen to use the service.”
“We will for very close contact things like going to nightclubs – other countries are for international travel – so I think there is precious little reason not to be vaccinated, every good reason to be vaccinated.
“Why wouldn’t we want to save lives? It’s just obvious to me.”
He said he did not know why the issue is “particularly controversial”, due to the high number of people who have already had jabs.
Asked about people having both vaccine doses before they go back to the office, Mr Shapps told Sky News: “It is a good idea and, yes, some companies will require it.
“We are not going to make that legislation that every adult has to be double-vaccinated before they go back to the office but, yes, it is a good idea and, yes, some companies will require it.”
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said while he can “see a case for vaccine passports”, he did not agree with a “jabs for jobs” approach.
He told broadcasters: “I can see a case for vaccine passports, alongside testing, when it comes to big sporting events or mass events, certainly for international travel.
“But for day-to-day routine – access to the office, access to health services or dentistry or even food – I don’t agree with vaccine passports for day-to-day access.”
Mr Shapps also indicated the Government is unlikely to budge on the August 16 date for people in England who are double-vaccinated no longer having to self-isolate if a contact tests positive for coronavirus, despite pressure as other nations move to drop the rule earlier.
Asked if the date is set in stone, he told Sky: “Yeah, right now that is the date. We’ll always keep these things under review but I don’t want to open up false hope for you, it’s not too far away now.”
Wales has confirmed fully vaccinated adults will not have to isolate from August 7, a change which will come into effect on the same day the nation is expected to move to alert level zero – when most coronavirus restrictions will be lifted there.
It will also advise those identified as a contact of a positive case to have a PCR test on day two and day eight, whether they are fully vaccinated or not.
Scotland is also expected to remove the need for fully vaccinated people to isolate on August 9, while Northern Ireland will review its rules on the matter on August 12.
Boris Johnson has been urged to bring forward England’s date after a rise in Covid cases led to a surge in people being “pinged” by the app, which caused disruption to several sectors and reached a recent record level of almost 700,000 alerts sent to Covid app users in England and Wales.
Some frontline workers are exempt from isolation, including those in prisons, waste collection, defence, the food industry, transport, Border Force and police and fire services.
Daily negative test results enable those eligible workers who have been alerted by the NHS Covid-19 app, or called by NHS Test and Trace as coronavirus contacts, to continue working.