UK NHS COVID Pass app which shows proof of full COVID-19 vaccination or a negative result of the COVID-19 test on a mobile device will now be required in order to enter nightclubs and other large venues and crowded events across England, starting tomorrow.
Despite strong opposition UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson faced within his own party, the controversial measure was passed in the House of Commons today with a vote of 369 to 126.
More than 90 Conservatives refused to support Johnson and voted against the government’s NHS COVID Pass motion, but that was not enough to subvert the legislation’s passage.
In his Sunday address to the nation, Johnson warned that a “tidal wave” of Omicron cases was headed England’s way, and the impact would undoubtedly be greater because it is wintertime.
However, he failed to summon the full support of his own party during Tuesday’s vote, and subsequently faced his biggest rebellion yet from fellow Tories.
The pass will be mandatory in the aforementioned circumstances from Wednesday.
Boris Johnson has already weathered strong opposition from within his own party regarding pandemic-era restrictions. He has come under heavy scrutiny over recent reports that he sanctioned or attended a number of parties at Downing Street last Christmas, at a time when all social gatherings were banned in England.
Those who spoke against the NHS COVID Pass had argued that the new steps intended to curb the virus were extreme and would infringe on civil liberties. One of the Tory rebels, backbencher Sir Geoffrey Clifton-Brown, said the message implied in the rebellion meant a challenge to Johnson’s tenure as PM had “got to be on the cards” next year.
Other measures passed in the Commons on Tuesday evening as part of the country’s ‘Plan B’ to combat COVID-19 included an extension of mandatory masking at most indoor venues. This was voted against by 40 Conservative MPs.
England has reported nearly 11 million positive COVID-19 cases, with recent figures trending upward.
At least one person has died from the Omicron variant, Johnson confirmed on Monday, and health officials have said the new strain is accounting for around 20% of positive cases across the country at present.