Proposals to give pubs the power to deny customers access based on vaccine passports have been described as a “unworkable” by UKHospitality. 

The prime minister has suggested pubs may be able to scrap social distancing and allow people to drink standing up and at the bar if landlords check customers’ Covid status on entry, the prime minister has suggested.

Boris Johnson told MPs he believed landlords should be able to set the criteria for entering their establishments.

Johnson said: “I think that that’s the kind of thing that may be up to individual publicans.

“I find myself in this long national conversation thinking very deeply about it and I think the public have been thinking very deeply about it.

“And my impression is that there is a huge wisdom in the public’s feeling about this and people instinctively recognise when something is dangerous and they can see that Covid is collectively a threat, and they want us as their government and me as the prime minister to take all the actions I can to protect them.”

Kate Nicholls, chief executive of UKHospitality, said: “It’s crucial that visiting the pub and other parts of hospitality should not be subject to mandatory vaccination certification.

“It is simply unworkable, would cause conflict between staff and customers and almost certainty result in breaches of equality rules.”

He said at the parliamentary liaison committee that he backed a more wide-ranging use for vaccine passports, which a committee led by Michael Gove is currently investigating.

The comments mark a change of thinking from the PM who has previously poured scorn on the idea of vaccine passports for hospitality venues.

The government’s review into social distancing measures, due to report in June, is currently considering whether allowing venues that demand Covid status on entry – which includes either a recent test or proof of vaccine – could be allowed to relax all rules on social distancing.

Ministers are also considering how large-scale events could operate under a system of vaccine or test certification.

A Whitehall source said no decision had been made, but said it was a measure being considered as part of the social distancing review.

A separate review is also looking at how Covid certification could work in practice.

The PM said the concept of vaccine certification should “not be totally alien” given that surgeons for example are expected to have a vaccination against hepatitis B.

Steve Baker, the Conservative deputy chair of the Covid Recovery Group of lockdown-sceptic MPs, said it the idea was “deeply concerning”.