Friday, 15 Oct 2021

Matt Hancock hints at Covid passports as he announces Brits have ability to certify jab

Matt Hancock: UK will have ability to certify they've had vaccine

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People will need to be offered the ability to certify that they have had a coronavirus vaccination, Matt Hancock has said. The Health Secretary told MPs “it is clear” that individuals will need a way of showing that they have had a jab but that those who cannot be inoculated for medical reasons will “absolutely” be taken “into consideration”. His comments came as the Government faces mounting pressure from Conservative MPs to avoid introducing Covid passports for people to travel domestically around the UK.

Speaking during a ministerial statement on the pandemic in the Commons, Conservative Sir Edward Leigh said: “I received an email from a lady this morning who is extremely clinically vulnerable and she, for perfectly good medical reasons, can’t receive a flu jab or a Covid jab.

“So she is very concerned she won’t be able to leave her front door if we bring in Covid passports.

“So for reasons of civil liberties, will the Secretary of State make absolutely clear that we’re not interested in bringing in Covid passports internally.

“But they are useful for foreign travel, and I say to (Jonathan Ashworth) that with the benefit of hindsight perhaps we should have introduced a hotel quarantine system much sooner.

“But can the Secretary of State make clear that he will resist the travel lobby and will absolutely be upfront and be honest with people and say it is very unwise to book summer holidays now – there may be these mutants – it is better just to hold off.

“I think people accept the Government being tough as long as the Government is consistent, particularly on foreign travel.”

Mr Hancock replied: “The point about certification is an important one and whilst the decisions on certification are being currently reviewed in a review led by (Michael Gove), it is clear that we will need to provide people with the ability to certify whether they have had the jab.

“And we will need to absolutely take into consideration those who have a certified clinical reason why they can’t have the jab – which does apply to a relatively small number of people – but it is an important consideration that will be taken forward as part of that work.”

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The Health Secretary refused to be drawn on whether people should be booking summer holidays.

British officials will discuss the European Union’s proposals for a vaccine passport which Brussels hopes will revive international travel ahead of the summer holidays.

European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said the “digital green pass” which will be set out this month would contain testing and vaccination data as well as information on recovering from Covid-19.

Department for Transport officials will speak to the EU about the approach it is planning for the 27-member bloc.

The UK Government has said that once more is known about the impact of vaccines it could introduce a system to allow people who have had a jab to travel more freely internationally.

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Officials want the UK to use its presidency of the G7 group of industrialised countries to help agree an international approach to the issue.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “We have said that we are looking at the issue of vaccine passports.

“As you can expect, DfT (the Department for Transport) will work (with) and do speak to countries across the world in terms of how they may look to introduce passports.”

The spokesman would not pre-empt the outcomes of the UK Government’s review.

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