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Boris Johnson Says A Kind Of "Vaccine Passport" Could Be Used To Help Reopen The Economy

Boris Johnson is said to be considering how so-called "vaccine passports" could be used to help reopen the economy (PA)

3 min read

A review into whether “Covid status certificates” could be used by hospitality and events venues in the future was announced by Boris Johnson in the House of Commons today.

Several ministers had denied in recent weeks that the government was considering such a system, while others have suggested it may only be needed for international travel.

But addressing MPs on Monday, the Prime Minister said he was launching a review to "consider the potential role of Covid status certification in helping venues to open safely, but mindful of the many concerns surrounding exclusion, discrimination, and privacy".

Last week, health secretary Matt Hancock dismissed claims that vaccine passports were being considered, despite foreign secretary Dominic Raab saying they were “under consideration” the day before.

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister also insisted last month that the policy “isn’t something we’re looking at”.

"I think I've been clear on the idea of immunity passports or vaccination passports previously, and the fact that we have no plan to introduce them,” they said on 22 January.

But government documents outlining the roadmap said vaccine passports could be used to “confirm in different settings that people have a lower risk of transmitting Covid-19 to others.

"The Government will review whether Covid-status certification could play a role in reopening our economy, reducing restrictions on social contact and improving safety,” it read.

“This will include assessing to what extent certification would be effective in reducing risk, and the potential uses to enable access to settings or a relaxation of Covid-Secure mitigations.

"The Government will also consider the ethical, equalities, privacy, legal and operational aspects of this approach and what limits, if any, should be placed on organisations using certification.

"It will draw on external advice to develop recommendations that take into account any social and economic impacts, and implications for disproportionately impacted groups and individuals' privacy and security.

The results of the review are expected in June, prior to step four of the government’s reopening plan.

Under proposals laid out by Johnson on Monday, step one of the roadmap will see schools reopen on 8 March and social distancing rules will be relaxed by 29 March.

In step two, hairdressers, non-essential retail, public buildings and outdoor hospitality will be able to accept visitors again from 12 April.

Limits on outdoor social distancing will be lifted by 17 May under step three, and catering venues will be allowed to serve customers indoors.

Step four will see all limits on socialising lifted, and most businesses allowed to reopen by 21 June.

The gap between each stage is intended to allow for additional data to emerge about the impact of the changes on the spread of the virus so decisions can be made about whether the country can move to the next step.

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