Minister Says UK Govt Discussing ‘Internationally Recognised’ Corona Passport for Global Travel

ISTANBUL, TURKEY - JUNE 01: A passenger wearing protective equipment wheels his luggage to a check-in counter at Istanbul Airport on June 01, 2020 in Istanbul, Turkey. As infection rates of the coronavirus continue to drop and after more than a month of weekend lockdowns, Turkey has begun reopening procedures, …
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UK Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has said that his office is talking to global officials about introducing an “internationally-recognised system” to facilitate overseas travel during the pandemic — just days after Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi said that there were “no plans” to implement a vaccine passport.

Mr Shapps said that he was talking to his counterpart in Singapore and will be discussing with his equivalent in the United States about such an immunity certificate, which he compared to the “Yellow Fever card” demanded by some countries before entry. But he denied there would be any such “vaccine passports” required for undertaking everyday tasks or accessing services in Britain.

“When it comes to international travel, just as we have things like the Yellow Fever card… I imagine that in the future there will be an international system where countries will want to know that you’ve been potentially vaccinated or potentially had tests taken before flying,” the transport minister told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Wednesday.

“The UK government is speaking to other governments about this,” Mr Shapps confirmed, as well as saying that the government was talking to bodies such as the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) “about how best to ensure that there are internationally recognised standards”.

Mr Shapps’s remarks come days after Vaccine Minister Nadhim Zahawi said that the government had “no plans” to introduce vaccine passports for international travel, calling them “discriminatory”.

The Conservative Party minister had told the BBC on Sunday: “Of course, you have the evidence that you’ve been vaccinated held by your GP, and if other countries require you to show proof of that evidence, then that is obviously up to those countries.

“But we’ve given the first dose to 11.5 million people, and we have no plan of introducing a vaccine passport.”

Vaccine passport advocate Tony Blair has not only backed the introduction of “health passports” but said that Britain should take the lead on the international stage in the formalisation of a “Global Covid Travel Pass”.

Mr Shapps’ remarks follow earlier reports that the British government was talking to countries such as Greece about “vaccine passports”, with some holiday destination favourites expected to demand proof of immunity or vaccination of the Chinese coronavirus before entry.

Denmark announced last week its intention to roll out such a “passport” by the end of February — making it the first in the world — to facilitate international travel for business. The country’s minister suggested that the document could also be used as “extra security” when reopening Danish society.

The British transport secretary, however, sought to make the distinction between such an international travel document and an immunity certificate, or also otherwise called a “vaccine passport”, needed to access services or got to the pub in the UK, which, he said, “I think is not on the cards”.

Last year, Mr Zahawi had said that while the UK would never mandate people take the vaccine, he admitted that private businesses might demand proof of immunity before being allowed into pubs, restaurants, cinemas, or stadiums.

In January, Remainer campaigner and London plumbing mogul Charlie Mullins announced a “no vaccine, no job” policy, saying he would refuse to hire anyone who was not vaccinated, adding the requirement to his employment contracts.

A government source revealed this week that businesses might be able to fire their unvaccinated staff under health and safety laws, saying: “If someone is working in an environment where people haven’t been vaccinated, it becomes a public health risk.”

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