A pub has become the first-known in Britain to ban punters who cannot prove they have had the Covid vaccine – in a bid to protect staff.
The Gardeners Arms in Norfolk has brought in the rule ahead of the so-called ‘Freedom Day’ on July 19.
The date marks the end of many of England’s strict lockdown measures – and means people can start ordering at bars again.
Table service had been the only way to get a drink in pubs up until now, with people forced to sit in groups of six or less.
Landlord Philip Cutter, 50, said he adopted the policy after two workers tested positive for Covid in recent weeks.
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This forced his boozer to close during Euro 2020 – losing him a significant amount of cash in takings.
Mr Cutter is reopening the pub on July 17, two days before the great unlocking.
And, from then, all visitors must prove they have had one jab at least two weeks earlier so antibodies have had the chance to develop.
Drinkers can use either their vaccination card or the NHS app to prove their status.
Mr Cutter, who employs 25 people, told The Sun : “I’ve not heard of any other pubs doing this but it seems a common-sense thing to do to protect my staff, customers and business.
“If this Delta variant was not running riot, we’d be looking at things differently but there’s a lot of virus out there.”
The Government announced last week that large venues will be “encouraged” to ask customers to show a Covid passport upon entry, which is to be rolled out in the coming weeks.
But, as yet, this policy is not being enforced by law – although ministers have warned that this could change is cases continue to surge.
Britain recorded 48,553 infections on Thursday – the most in six months.
Official stats showed that 63 deaths were also recorded in the past 24 hours – the highest figure since March.
Mr Cutter revealed that he has received some “vile messages” from anti-vaxxers over his decision – but he said he has also had “a lot of support”.
“We’re not trying to discriminate or embarrass anyone – we’re just trying to make sure people are safe,” he added.
Boris Johnson’s decision to go ahead with the great unlocking next week has split opinion, with some experts believing it to be soon.
But to those who questioned the move, health secretary Sajid Javid said: “If not now, when?”
The prime minister has said it is “highly probable” that the worst of the pandemic is over provided people are careful when restrictions lift in England on Monday.
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In a speech in Coventry, he said: “I wish I could say that this pandemic that we have been going through is over and I wish I could say that from Monday we could simply throw caution to the winds and behave exactly as we did before we’d ever heard of Covid.
“But what I can say is that if we are careful and if we continue to respect this disease and its continuing menace then it is highly probable – almost all the scientists are agreed on this – the worst of the pandemic is behind us.
“There are difficult days and weeks ahead as we deal with the current wave of the Delta variant and there will be sadly more hospitalisation and more deaths.
“But with every day that goes by we build higher the wall of vaccine acquired immunity.”