LONDON (AP) — Restaurants, ride-hailing apps and food delivery services are backing Britain’s COVID-19 vaccination drive, offering discounts and even free slices of pizza to persuade young people to roll up their sleeves and get the shot.
The program, announced Sunday by the Department of Health and Social Care, is designed to boost the vaccination rate among adults under 30 as Britain races to inoculate as many people as possible before colder weather arrives.
While more than 90 percent of adults in Britain have received at least one dose of vaccine, the rate for people between the ages of 18 and 30 is about 60 percent, according to government statistics.
As he thanked businesses for helping out, Health Secretary Sajid Javid urged people to “take advantage of the discounts.” Uber, Bolt, Deliveroo and Pizza Pilgrims are among the brands to offer incentives.
“The lifesaving vaccines not only protect you, your loved ones and your community, but they are helping to bring us back together by allowing you to get back to doing the things you’ve missed,” he said.
Britain is not the only nation to try more carrot — and less stick — to persuade the reluctant to roll up their sleeves. US President Joe Biden this week called on states and local governments to join New York and Minnesota in offering $100 rewards, hoping a financial incentive will spur the hesitant to be vaccinated as the highly contagious delta variant sweeps through parts of the country.
Britain is keen to increase vaccination rates amid a surge in new infections as the government seeks to fully re-open society.
Meanwhile, politicians are anxious to bolster the economy as the national furlough program, which guaranteed the wages of millions of people who were unable to work due to government restrictions, comes to an end.
Treasury chief Rishi Sunak is urging Prime Minister Boris Johnson to ease international travel restrictions, arguing that Britain’s “draconian” rules are unnecessary given the success of the vaccination program.
The Sunday Times reported that Sunak wrote to Johnson to encourage him to let people enjoy their summer holidays, while expressing concern about the impact the restrictions are having on tourism and the hospitality industry.
Johnson’s Cabinet will meet later this week to review the current travel rules, which require expensive COVID-19 testing for people arriving from most popular holiday destinations in Europe and force anyone coming from France to self-isolate for up to 10 days.
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