Pubs, restaurants and nightclubs have said they do not have the technology to scan Covid vaccine passports as the scheme threatens to descend into chaos next week.

Hospitality chiefs said that they did not know how to check QR codes produced by the NHS app as proof of double vaccination, immunity or a recent negative Covid test.

The Government issued guidance this week encouraging venues including pubs, restaurants and nightclubs to begin asking customers for an NHS Covid pass from next Monday.

But business owners said the vaccine passports could be easily faked because they had not been supplied with the technology to check proof of identity.

A government spokesman said an app to allow businesses to scan QR codes would be released on Saturday – just two days before the new guidance takes effect. But industry sources pointed out that many restaurants and pubs do not have QR readers and questioned whether staff would need to use their personal phones.

Vaccine passport in pubs

Kate Nicholls, the chief executive of UKHospitality, said: "It’s just another reason why this scheme is totally unworkable.

"Without being able to scan the QR code, it makes it very difficult to prove this person’s actual Covid status. I wonder if they plan to have the technology in place in order to make Covid passports mandatory later this year?

"It won’t work on the door and I don’t know a single one of my members who will be ready to do this on Monday."

Another source in the pub industry described the QR codes as "totally pointless", adding: "Even of the app arrives before Monday, that gives us no time to get our heads around it. The whole thing is a total last-minute fudge."

It comes after spectators at Wembley and Wimbledon said the system of Covid checks was not fit for purpose because stewards simply looked at their Covid passes rather than scanning them.

One wrote on social media that he "may as well have showed a pizza voucher", while a Wembley steward told LBC radio that fans were turning up with screenshots of other people’s Covid status to access the stadium. 

Oliver Dowden, the Culture Secretary, tweeted a picture of himself "showing proof of my vaccination" by holding up his phone.

NHSX, the digital arm of the health service, produced a tech support page for an "NHS Covid Pass Verifier app" earlier this year, urging businesses to download it.

"The official NHS Covid Pass Verifier app is a secure way to scan an individual’s NHS Covid Pass and check that they have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19, had a negative test, or have recovered from Covid-19," the page said.

However the app has yet to be launched, with only days left before the vaccine passports guidance is set to take effect. 

A government spokesman said: "The verifier app will be available for download in app stores by Saturday, alongside full guidance to organisations and venues on how to use both the NHS app and verifier app."