23 Feb Showing a vaccine passport could unlock mass events
People could be asked to show a vaccine passport in order to attend a big event or go to work under plans being considered by the government.
The road map out of lockdown includes a review of whether Covid-19 certificates “could play a role in reopening our economy”.
It comes after weeks of ministers having downplayed such a policy. Nadhim Zahawi, the vaccines minister, called the idea wrong and discriminatory in comments endorsed by Downing Street less than a fortnight ago.
The review’s findings will be published before the last of Boris Johnson’s four steps to reopening the economy, which will be no earlier than June 21.
The road map states that the review will address whether certificates would be effective in reducing risk and their potential uses to enable access to certain settings.
The prime minister told the Commons that the government would be “mindful of the many concerns surrounding exclusion, discrimination and privacy” relating to certification.
There are worries that requiring proof of vaccination could discriminate against communities where uptake of jabs is low. A recent study involving the University of Oxford found that black people over the age of 80 in England were half as likely as their white peers to have had the coronavirus vaccine.
Johnson told last night’s Downing Street press conference that “there may well be a role for certification but we just need to get it right”.
Matt Hancock, the health secretary, said that it was “absolutely on all of us” to come forward to accept the vaccine when it is offered. “We want to see that vaccine uptake go as high as possible,” he told the BBC’s Today programme.
“I want to obviously offer the vaccine to all adults by the end of July, that’s the target that we think that we can meet, and all over-50s by April 15, and we have been able to bring that forward. But we are also, alongside that, working incredibly hard to encourage people to take it if they are unsure.”
The certificates could display vaccination data or testing data. Some government figures believe that the review is most likely to recommend that people display a verified negative test, rather than proof of vaccination, before attending an event such as a concert or sports fixture.
It has already revealed that care homes, schools and businesses were in talks with technology companies about certification. Sectors that have overwhelmingly younger clientele or workforces, such as hospitality, are much less keen on domestic vaccination passports.
Israel announced last week that vaccinated people would be able to download a certificate enabling them to work out in gyms and attend cultural events.