Boris Johnson has suggested rapid testing for coronavirus will be used over “vaccine passports” to help reopen businesses when lockdown restrictions ease.
The Prime Minister did not completely rule out using domestic immunity passports, saying the Government will “look at everything”.
But he told a Downing Street press conference: “What we are thinking of at the moment is more of a route that relies on mass vaccination – we intend to vaccinate all of the adults in the country by the autumn – plus lateral flow testing.”
Those rapid tests would help “the toughest nuts to crack” including nightclubs and some theatres which had been unable to open last year, he said.
“I think that will be the route that we go down and that businesses will go down,” Mr Johnson explained.
“You are already seeing lots of business using the potential of rapid, on-the-day testing as well. I think that, in combination with vaccination, will probably be the route forward.”
But he said it was “still early days, there are lots of discussions still to be had”.
Earlier on Monday Mr Johnson said he has no plans to introduce vaccine passports for activities like going to the pub.
It comes after Foreign Office minister James Cleverly said earlier this month that the UK Government will work with other countries to “help facilitate” coronavirus immunity passports if they are required by destinations to travel abroad.
Speaking to the media in south London on Monday, Mr Johnson said he imagines such schemes could be required for foreign travel, although he has no plans to introduce them for domestic activities.
He added: “I think inevitably there will be great interest in ideas like can you show that you had a vaccination against Covid in the way that you sometimes have to show you have had a vaccination against yellow fever or other diseases in order to travel somewhere.
“I think that is going to be very much in the mix down the road, I think that is going to happen.
“What I don’t think we will have in this country is – as it were – vaccination passports to allow you to go to, say, the pub or something like that.
The Prime Minister also said that he expects there to be an increase in “rapid testing” as more of the population is vaccinated.
Mr Johnson said: “Looking at the future, what we hope to have is such a high proportion of the population vaccinated that when you couple that with rapid testing – lateral flow testing – you really start to get the kind of answers that you’re talking about.
“So I think it’s in the context of … having vaccinated a lot of the population, as we’re already doing – and we’ll do a lot more of in the next few months – that the rapid test approach will start, I think, to come into its own.”