Several countries have agreed to use the NHS Covid app to allow people to show their Covid status.
Barbados, Croatia, Greece and Turkey are among the countries that will accept the app to allow foreign visitors entry into the country.
Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove has been leading a review into the use of Covid status certification for the UK government, visiting Israel as part of the process to assess the effectiveness of a similar “green pass” scheme the country has rolled out.
Mr Gove gave evidence to MPs on the Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs Committee on Thursday (27 May) and confirmed that Gibraltar, Iceland, Moldova, Bulgaria and Estonia have also agreed to use the app.
The NHS app has already been altered to allow users to prove their vaccine status and Mr Gove said further changes were in the pipeline so that Covid-19 test results could be declared as well.
The review into Covid status certification, which had been due to report this month, has now been delayed until after the Commons returns from a recess in the week of 7 June.
Mr Gove insisted the possible introduction of the certificates, also known as ‘vaccine passports’, was not necessarily linked to the next stage of the road map on 21 June.
When could Covid status certificates be introduced?
Mr Gove said there was not an “ironclad” link between the 21 June, when all lockdown restrictions are due to be lifted, and the possible introduction of Covid status certification.
However, he added that the use of such certificates domestically could help “economic and social life… return more quickly”.
The Cabinet minister told MPs that asking people to prove their Covid status could allow large events, such as football matches and festivals, to resume at full capacity, even if lockdown restrictions remain in place.
He said that conversations had taken place with the Scottish government about recognising paper proof of a jab to ensure that vaccinated football fans can attend the clash with England in the European Championships at Wembley this summer.
This suggests that a form of a vaccine passport could be in force by 18 June.
It is hoped that, if introduced, the Covid passports would be UK-wide and that discussions were ongoing with devolved nations.
Mr Gove also confirmed that discussions are underway with other nations to ensure Covid status certification for British travellers would be accepted.
What will the certificate show?
It is expected that the certification would include whether a person has been vaccinated against Covid-19, had a recent negative test, or has been previously infected with the virus within the last six months.
Detailing how the system could work, Mr Gove explained: “To take a case in point, if it is the case that we want to see the restoration of Premier League football, which I certainly do, then in order for that to happen we would want to have, and indeed Premier League teams would also want to have, their stadia full to maximum capacity.
“Certification may play a role in that if the alternative were to, for example, to continue with social distancing and other forms of restrictions such as crowd capacity limits.
“So, in that sense, and that is just one example, the deployment of certification and the investment in that infrastructure would enable the economic and social life of the country to return more quickly and safely.”
Mr Gove denied that vaccine passports were a way of encouraging take-up of jabs and said that many venues would be excluded from such measures.
He added that public transport operators, libraries, government buildings, job centres and essential retail would not be allowed to ask for someone’s Covid status before entry, should the scheme be brought in.
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