Members of the public who receive the coronavirus vaccine could be issued with QR codes on their mobile phones to allow them entry to large cultural and sporting events under proposals floated by ministers. 

While Downing Street has insisted it has no plans to pursue compulsory vaccination, several Government sources believe people who are inoculated should be issued with a form of immunity certification. This would potentially enable them to attend football matches and other large gatherings that are currently deemed high-risk. 

However, Whitehall sources stressed that the issue had not been discussed formally and conversations were in their infancy.

Speaking to The Telegraph on Tuesday night, one minister pointed out that a vaccination requirement for spectators attending the Tokyo Olympics had already been suggested.

"I think there are lots of people who think it is a logical extension and lots of people are interested in it," the minister added. 

"Bear in mind there are some countries where, pre-Covid, if you are to have access to a state-run nursery you have to be part of the standard immunisation programme. The public gets that there’s a difference between compulsory and where you are exchanging it for a service.

"I can’t imagine we would go further than that, but there is a sort of purely political conversation about whether it will help, if it will encourage more people to get vaccinated." 

Should covid vaccine be mandatory

A second source added that many venues would not want customers or staff entering their premises if they had refused to be vaccinated, adding that certification would provide a strong incentive for people to be inoculated without the need for the Government to legislate.

"One way of opening up society would be those people who have had vaccinations carrying some kind of QR code or some sort of immunity certification which shows that they have been tested," the minister said.

It comes after a recent paper published by the influential Policy Exchange think tank urged ministers to commence a "feasibility assessment for digital vaccination certification". 

The paper said that "individuals could possibly use these verified vaccination certificates to gain access to a limited number of settings where the risk of infection is higher (such as a nightclub, for example) so as to ensure that the vulnerable are not exposed to the virus".

The use of QR codes has already been deployed for the NHS Test and Trace app, with users able to scan a code on their phones on arrival at a venue. 

Ministers previously discussed the idea of issuing immunity certificates following the creation of antibody tests, but it was later shelved due to the need for more research on immunity post-infection.