The introduction of Covid status certificates could risk discriminating against certain groups, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has said.
The UK equality watchdog said that although certificates - also sometimes known as Covid passports - could help ease Covid restrictions “in principle”, there’s also the risk that they could create a "two-tier society whereby only certain groups are able to fully enjoy their rights", according to a submission seen by the Guardian.
The EHRC has said that Covid status certificates - which could be required for travel, going to work or social activities - could discriminate against marginalised groups where the take-up of the coronavirus vaccine is lower, as well as those who cannot take the vaccine due to medical reasons.
The FA Cup final in May is one of the large-scale events where certification is set to be trialled.
The submission said that there “is a risk of unlawful discrimination if decisions taken in this process disadvantage people with protected characteristics who have not received, or are not able to receive, the vaccine, unless they can be shown to be justified.”
“Any mandatory requirement for vaccination or the implementation of Covid-status certification may amount to indirect discrimination, unless the requirement can be objectively justified,” the submission added.
‘We would monitor the rollout to ensure the right balance is struck between protecting the public's health and our individual freedoms’
Baroness Kishwer Falkner, chair of the EHRC, said that if the certificates are introduced then they must be time-limited and reviewed on a regular basis by Parliament in order to ensure they are proportionate.
However, ministers have previously suggested that Covid status certificates - which would show whether people have been vaccinated, recently tested negative for the virus or have antibodies from a confirmed infection in the last six months - would be introduced for a limited time only.
Baroness Falkner added that those who cannot take the vaccine must be able to easily access documentation which states their exemption.
She said: "We would monitor the rollout to ensure the right balance is struck between protecting the public's health and our individual freedoms.”