| 16 April 2024, Tuesday |

Covid passports are ‘one option’ to provide reassurance, vaccines minister says

UK Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi said that it would be “remiss” of the government not to consider Covid certification as a way of fully reopening the economy.

Amid criticism of the plans, Zahawi said: “It’s only right that we look at all these options that are available to us to take our lives back.”

The government said certificates showing vaccination, test or immunity status could “provide reassurance”.

Boris Johnson said they could help signal a person is not contagious.

Speaking on a visit to an AstraZeneca factory in Macclesfield, Cheshire, Johnson said Covid certificates – also referred to as passports – would not be rolled out until well after indoor hospitality reopens from 17 May.

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said she was open-minded about using certificates to allow certain activities to resume, and called for an open debate.

But many MPs have criticized the plans, with senior Tory backbencher Mark Harper warning it could lead to a “two-tier” Britain, demanding a vote on the issue.

Zahawi was keen to point out that the concept of using Covid certificates to allow international travel was distinct from a review of using them within the UK.

“But I think it would be remiss and irresponsible for us to not look at all these things,” he told BBC Breakfast, adding that any certificate would show test results because testing is available to all, unlike vaccines.

But he stressed they would not be needed for the reopening of outdoor hospitality or non-essential retail on 12 April or indoor hospitality from 17 May.

Zahawi told BBC Radio 4’s Today program the use of certificates domestically “does raise a number of ethical issues”.