The government is reportedly working on a “vaccine passport” in anticipation that holiday destinations like Greece will demand proof of immunity before granting entry to visitors.
Earlier this week, Denmark became one of the first countries in the world to commit to a government-endorsed immunity certificate. The nation’s Acting Minister of Finance Morten Bødskov said initially the certificates, which could be available by the end of this month, would allow for businessmen to travel overseas but could also be used as “extra security” when reopening Danish society after months of restrictions.
Sources speaking to The Times said the British government was working on similar documentation, as countries like Greece have said they prepare to lift quarantine restrictions for tourists if they can prove they have been inoculated.
A combined effort of the British Department for Health and Social Care, the Department for Transport, and the Foreign Office is working on the options for the “vaccine passport”. British officials have reportedly told Greece that it could rescue the country’s ailing tourism industry if it rolls out the documentation.
The Greek government is said to be wary of the Russian Sputnik V vaccine, but are confident in the AstraZeneca and Pfizer shots, which are being administered in the United Kingdom. British tourists may be allowed to enter the country with minimal restrictions by May. Travellers may still be asked to provide a negative COVID-19 test no more than 72 hours before travel even if they have a vaccine passport.
Denmark to Introduce World’s First Corona Vaccine Passport: Report https://t.co/0pOljfUa2w
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 4, 2021
The Mediterranean country is also believed to be considering opening up the vaccine certificate exemptions to the United States and Israel, which are having similar successes in vaccinated their populations.
Greek officials do not anticipate countries like Germany will be able to participate in the programme, because it remains so far behind in its vaccination programme.
British government ministers have been sending out mixed signals in recent months over the possibility of vaccine passports, either for travel or the resumption of normal life. In December, Vaccine Minister Nadim Zahawi said that while the government would never mandate vaccinations, private businesses could demand proof of vaccination, which might involve government-backed documentation to prove it.
Senior minister Michael Gove was quick to respond that “I certainly am not planning to introduce any vaccine passports, and I don’t know anyone else in government (who is).”
However, weeks after Gove’s denials, it was reported that the government had contracted two technology firms to explore the possibility of “freedom passports”, with QR code-based apps used to prove a “negative Covid-19 test certification”.
While on January 12th, Mr Zahawi said: “We have no plans to introduce vaccine passports… No one has been given or will be required to have a vaccine passport.”
Tory MPs Call for End of Lockdown After Oxford Vaccine Shows Two-Thirds Reduction in Transmission https://t.co/K2l0SSilo2
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 3, 2021
Responding to the Times report on Friday, Foreign Office minister James Cleverly would not outright reject the reports, telling Good Morning Britain: “Every country sets its own rules about who it does or doesn’t allow into its country.
“Other countries around the world may decide that they accept people who have had proof of vaccinations and as British officials always do, we work with our international partners so that we can understand what their travel rules are…so that we can properly inform British travellers.”
“I do think that we are going to be in a position where we have to have an annual coronavirus vaccine, and that annual vaccine will be tailored to the variant strains in the UK at that particular moment." https://t.co/BNrl698bfA
— Breitbart London (@BreitbartLondon) February 2, 2021