Thursday, 25 Feb 2021

COVID-19: Vaccine and testing certificates to be discussed by ministers tomorrow

Ministers will tomorrow discuss a Cabinet Office proposal to introduce vaccine and testing certificates for when international travel is allowed again, Sky News can reveal.

Responsibilities have already been divided up between government departments to look at the idea.

If approved, the Department for Transport will be told to draw up plans for a certificate infrastructure.

And the NHS will be told to prepare to let people access their vaccine status when preparing for international travel.

“Formal engagement” with other countries and international organisations will also begin, led by the Cabinet Office.

The Foreign Office, meanwhile, will help design the international certificate system.

Sky News has been told Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has signed off on the proposal ahead of a meeting with other cabinet ministers tomorrow.

A government insider stressed there is “nervousness” about when such a system will even be announced publicly, let alone rolled out for use.

A briefing paper prepared ahead of the COVID operations meeting tomorrow and seen by Sky News said: “We should not set even speculative timelines on when this may change border measures.”

The policy will not be implemented until there is “sufficient scientific evidence” from the government’s advisory group known as SAGE on the effects of vaccine and testing certificates.

It comes after vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi publicly rejected the idea of immunity passports.

Asked on Sophy Ridge on Sunday about whether the government was looking to introduce them, Mr Zahawi said: “No, we’re not…

“One, we don’t know the impact of the vaccines on transmission; two, it would be discriminatory and I think the right thing to do is to make sure people come forward to be vaccinated because they want to rather than it being made in some ways mandatory through a passport.

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