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The government must introduce vaccine passports so we can look forward to holidays abroad once again

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3 min read

Vaccine passports should be used to allow us to travel freely abroad as soon as it is safe to do so and allow the aviation industry to begin to recover from the pandemic.

The Prime Minister has said the government would examine the case for Covid status certificates or vaccine passports. However, his statement caused confusion when he needed to be clear about what these passports would allow or exclude us from doing.

Some have called for Covid status certificates to be used as a means of proving vaccination in the UK to enter venues, such as cinemas, stadia or restaurants.

This raises human rights and discrimination issues. If someone is either unwilling, or unable, to be vaccinated they could be excluded from a venue, even if they accept other safeguards like masks and social distancing. I doubt if this kind of discrimination would be acceptable.

This is an issue that the committee, set up by the PM and chaired by the ubiquitous Michael Gove, will have to wrestle with.

Vaccine passports should be used to allow us to travel freely abroad as soon as it is safe to do so.

The UK is well ahead of many other nations in its vaccination programme and many prospective travellers are likely to have obtained both jabs by the time international journeys are again possible.

Of course, to be of use the proposed certificate, or passport, will need to be accepted by the country of destination.

It is important that the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland also agree to implement the same passports

There are various forms it could take but the most obvious, and simplest, is a certificate signed by a clinician giving the details of the vaccine used. I already possess such an international certificate of my vaccination against yellow fever and malaria – which is a requirement to travel to some countries.

The two Covid vaccines currently being rolled out in the UK both protect the recipient and substantially reduce the danger of transmitting the virus to others, according to the most recent data.

When I raise this issue in the Lords today, I will be urging the UK government to move quicky to introduce such a certificate or passport for Covid.

It is important that the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland also agree to implement the same passports, so that they are a common UK certificate – as mine is for yellow fever and malaria.

Of course, the government will also need to make agreements with as many countries as possible, so that the passport can be used extensively by potential travellers.

Greece, Denmark, Sweden and Iceland are already working on getting vaccination passports up and running and there may well be an EU-wide document common for all member states.

Urgent action is needed to ensure we can look forward to holidays abroad once again and allow the aviation industry to begin to recover from the pandemic.

 

Lord Foulkes is a Labour member of the House of Lords.

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