CLUBBERS will have to show proof of two Covid jabs to get into venues from September, Boris Johnson said last night.
The shock announcement came after ministers had previously ruled out “papers to party” and insisted any such scheme would be voluntary for nightclubs.
But concerns under-30s are not taking up the vaccine quickly enough sparked a U-turn on Covid passports — intended as an incentive for the young to get jabbed.
More than three million 18 to 30- year-olds have yet to take up the offer of a first jab — prompting the PM to fire his “policy bazooka”.
Mr Johnson even left the door open to extending the move to pubs and football clubs saying he “reserved the right to do what’s necessary to protect the public”.
One senior government source said: “Other countries have seen rapid take-up of the jabs once the incentive is there for young people to get one. It is clear the carrot hasn’t been working, so I’m afraid it is time for the stick.”
But last night, the nightclub industry blasted the move. Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, described the plans as an “absolute shambles”.
He said: “So, ‘freedom day’ for nightclubs lasted around 17 hours then. The announcement from the Prime Minister that Covid passports will be made mandatory for nightclubs in September comes after his health secretary said only one week ago that they would not be compulsory. What an absolute shambles.”
The PM yesterday appealed directly to under-30s to do their bit and get their jabs.
He said: “Come on folks, this is it, you won’t regret it. It’s the right thing to do for you, for your family and for everybody out there. Above all, it’s the right thing for you to help get back the freedoms you love.”
Speaking from Chequers where he has been forced to isolate for ten days, the PM added: “We’re concerned, as they are in other countries, by the continuing risk posed by nightclubs.
“I should serve notice now that by the end of September, when all over-18s will have had their chance to be double jabbed, we’re planning to make full vaccination the condition of entry to nightclubs and other venues where large crowds gather.
“Proof of a negative test will no longer be enough. I don’t want to have to close nightclubs again as they have elsewhere, but it does mean nightclubs need to do the socially responsible thing and make use of the NHS Covid pass.”
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Asked by HOAR if this policy was the “thin edge of the wedge” and “passports for pints” would soon be coming in, the PM did not rule it out.
He said: “I certainly don’t want to see passports for pubs. But where the settings are closed, crowded and close social contact, we reserve the right to do what’s necessary to protect the public.”
Mr Johnson was also pushed on whether large gatherings for mandatory Covid jabs could include football stadiums next season, but he dodged the question.
He later said he wanted to “avoid a situation where people are asked to produce papers” but again repeated he reserved the right to “do what’s necessary”.
Chief Medical Officer Sir Patrick Vallance added: “Nightclubs and venues where you’ve got lots of people indoors crowded together are a focus for potential super-spreading events.
“That’s why it’s so important everybody gets a vaccine so we can reduce the chance of spread and consequences of that spread.”
NHS England figures show a third of 18 to 29-year-olds have not yet had their first dose, with men more likely than women not to have come forward.
Last night Peter Marks, boss of Rekom UK which runs 47 of the UK’s biggest clubs such as Pryzm and Atik, said: “The people making these decisions have this outdated idea of what nightclubs were like in the 1980s and 1990s.
“We have the best air purification around. We change our air every four minutes for fresh air from outside. No other venues, pubs and so on, can compete with that. So why are nightclubs being targeted?”