'Covid O' Cabinet committee set to consider 'vaccine passports' plans

Powerful ‘Covid O’ Cabinet committee is set to consider plans for ‘vaccine passports’ tomorrow amid hopes they could save summer holidays

  • Covid O committee having initial discussions about ‘vaccine passports’ for travel
  • Boris Johnson has said having two Covid jabs could allow you to go on holiday
  • Iata revealed ‘fruitful’ Government talks about vaccination app for travellers

Plans for ‘vaccine passports’ that could save summer holidays are set to be considered by senior ministers tomorrow.

The critical ‘Covid O’ Cabinet sub-committee is expected to look at proposals for assembling a system that could loosen restrictions on international travel.

However, there are not expected to be any final decisions – and no date has been mooted for when the arrangements might come into force. 

Instead the Department for Transport is likely to be given clearance to step up preparations, while the Department of Health will be tasked to study how Britons can access their medical information.

At the moment non-essential foreign travel is illegal, and even harsher border rules with ‘quarantine hotels’ for all arrivals from high-risk ‘red list’ countries is due to come into force on Monday. 

One senior government sources told MailOnline that it was ‘too early’ for any substantive decisions to be made by the ministers. 

Another source said the Covid O agenda was dealing with ‘concepts not hard stuff’. ‘That’ll be ages away,’ they added. 

Boris Johnson said last night that Government was looking at ‘all kinds of apps and all kinds of possibilities’ for unlocking travel as the vaccine rollout is ramped up.

He confirmed ministers are in talks with other countries and the aviation industry about an international certification system.

The smartphone apps would allow holidaymakers to upload scannable proof of their jabs and a recent negative Covid test before flying. 

Boris Johnson (pictured) last night suggested summer holidays for Britons who have had both Covid jabs are on the horizon

At the moment non-essential foreign travel is illegal, and even harsher border rules with ‘quarantine hotels’ for all arrivals from high-risk ‘red list’ countries is due to come into force on Monday

But he added: ‘When we’re in that different world, which I hope will be as soon as possible, then all kinds of apps and all kinds of possibilities will be open to us.’ 

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps also revealed he is in talks with other countries and the UN’s ICAO aviation body about how to ease restrictions for vaccinated people. 

The discussions are focused on an  ‘internationally recognised system’ of allowing travellers to prove they have had a Covid jab.

It is not the same as an ‘immunity passport’ for accessing services and escaping restrictions within the UK – which ministers have stressed will not happen. 

Mr Shapps said he has been in discussions with his counterparts in Singapore and the United States about the possibility of an international certification system.

‘I imagine that in the future there will be an international system where countries will want to know that you have been potentially vaccinated or potentially had tests taken before flying,’ he told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.

‘I was speaking to my Singaporean counterpart, I was speaking to my US counterpart this week, and we’ll have discussions about those things to have an internationally recognised system.

‘I think the confusion comes in when people talk about domestic passports, which I think is not on the cards.’ 

Grant Shapps’ (pictured yesterday) Department for Transport is likely to be given clearance to step up preparations for vaccine passports tomorrow

Alexandre de Juniac, chief executive of the International Air Transport Association (Iata), said it is working with carriers on the TravelPass app, which will give people flying abroad the ability to share their coronavirus test and vaccination results.

The former Air France boss told the BBC’s Newscast podcast that the app could be rolled out from April, and discussions with the UK Government have been ‘very fruitful’.

‘We should not anticipate, but the UK authorities are among those with whom we have the closest link on this element,’ he said.

Mr de Juniac confirmed reports that the app is being trialled by IAG, the parent company of British Airways, as the aviation industry looks to ways of restarting international travel.

Alexandre de Juniac, chief executive of the International Air Transport Association (Iata), said it is working with carriers on the TravelPass app, which will give people flying abroad the ability to share their coronavirus test and vaccination results.

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