LONDON – Britain will begin piloting domestic COVID certificates this month, giving access to certain venues including sports stadiums and nightclubs, as ministers consider ways to reopen the post-lockdown UK economy.
People who have been vaccinated, received a negative test recently or have natural immunity after recovering from infection in the past six months, can attend trial events at sports venues, conference centers and nightclubs. That includes this month’s FA Cup semi-final and May’s final.
Businesses, including pubs and restaurants, which are allowed to reopen outdoors on April 12, and indoors on May 17, will not be asked to ask customers to prove their COVID status, Downing Street said. The hotel sector warned Prime Minister Boris Johnson that such a move would be unsuccessful and discriminatory when he pitched his idea last month.
The plans for a COVID certificate will be one of the details that Johnson will set out on Monday as part of a broader update on Britain’s route out of lockdown, which began last week with people allowed to meet outdoors in groups of six.
Returning to non-essential international travel on May 17 has not been ruled out, but Downing Street warned people may have to wait longer as some countries experience a third wave of the disease. The ministers also weighed the risks posed by the so-called “attention variant” that may be resistant to current vaccines. The country’s traffic light system will come into effect when restrictions are lifted.
There will be no isolation requirements for travel from countries in the new “green category” – although pre-departure and post-arrival tests are still required. The “red” and “yellow” restrictions will remain as they are, with conditions for quarantine or self-isolation when returning to the UK, Downing Street said in a press release explaining his thinking.
Meanwhile, Germany is also considering introducing a system that allows people to be vaccinated into shops, restaurants and hotels, Health Minister Jens Spahn told the Bild am Sonntag newspaper.
“Anyone who has been fully vaccinated can, in the future, be treated like someone who has tested negative,” said Spahn.
Germany is considering a rapid testing system to reopen its retail and hospitality sectors. New findings from the country’s infectious diseases agency, obtained by Bild, suggest the risk of transmission is so low two weeks after the second dose of vaccine that those who are fully inoculated can skip tests and quarantine to shop and travel.
The UK government has faced strong opposition in parliament over its plans for a domestic COVID certificate. More than 70 lawmakers, including more than 40 Conservative supporters of Johnson himself, oppose the so-called COVID passport in Britain.
Michael Gove, the Cabinet Office minister overseeing the certificate plan, said a COVID certificate would become “a necessity for international travel,” in an article for the Sunday Telegraph.
The European Commission has proposed so-called digital green certificates, which would permit travel across the block confirming vaccinations, immunity or coronavirus testing status.
Gove said the certificate could be “a valuable aid to opening up our domestic economy and society more quickly.”
The pilot event should be closed to the public until the end of this year without a certificate scheme, Gove said. He also warned businesses could start setting up their own private certification schemes to restrict access if the government doesn’t act.
“Unless the Government takes the lead, we run the risk of someone else setting the rules of the road. So where is the line to be drawn to help protect freedom, respect privacy, promote equality and return us to normalcy? And how can we ensure that our approach is proportionate. and limited time ?, “he wrote.
“Appropriate exceptions” for people who have been advised not to be vaccinated, or who cannot be repeatedly tested, are being examined, and the NHS is working on digital and non-digital certificates, Downing Street said.
Sarah Wheaton contributed reporting.