Vaccine passports to apply to those who have had Covid in past six months
- Credit: Jernej Furman
People who have tested positive for coronavirus within the past six months will potentially be considered to have natural immunity from Covid as part of a UK vaccine passport scheme.
Interim findings of the Government's review into the domestic use of Covid status certification states that ministers believe such a scheme could have an "important role to play both domestically and internationally, as a temporary measure".
The taskforce review, led by Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, is looking at "what standards" should be required for so-called vaccine passports if they are used domestically.
Mr Gove's review, which is due to be finalised in the summer, has initially found that vaccine passports could "potentially play a role in settings such as theatres, nightclubs, and mass events such as festivals or sports events to help manage risks where large numbers of people are brought together in close proximity".
According to an eight-page Downing Street paper, those who have tested positive for Covid-19 within the past 180 days would qualify for access to a venue or event requiring Covid certification.
"The Government expects that Covid-status certification could be demonstrated by: an up-to-date vaccine status, a negative lateral flow or PCR test taken at a test site on the same day or the day before their admission to a venue, or by proof of natural immunity, such as through a previous positive PCR for a time limit of 180 days from the date of the positive test and following completion of the self-isolation period," the document said.
These approaches will be tested through mass event pilots over the coming weeks, the Government said, which were outlined over the weekend, including the World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield and culminating with the FA Cup final at Wembley on May 15.
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In the introduction to the initial findings, the Government said that while 31 million people had received at least a single dose of the vaccine in the UK, mass inoculation would "not provide universal protection".
"As a result, some measures may be required for a period after all adults have been offered a vaccine, in order to prevent a surge in hospitalisations which could put unsustainable pressure on the NHS," the No 10 paper said.
The paper said there was a need to set out common rules for applying restrictions based on people's Covid status.
"Even without Government intervention, Covid-status certification is likely to become a feature of our lives until the threat from the pandemic recedes," it added.
"In the UK, businesses and other organisations are able to ask customers for proof of Covid status in order to access their premises, as long as they are compliant with equalities legislation.
"The Government believes that introducing a ban on this would in most cases be an unjustified intrusion on how businesses choose to make their premises safe – although, as set out below, there may be exceptions where the Government needs to intervene to ensure equitable access to essential services.
"It is therefore right that the Government provides a means of easily demonstrating Covid-status, in order to ensure UK citizens and residents are not denied opportunities to travel or attend certain venues or events."
The document confirmed briefings over the weekend that a traffic light system for international travel will be brought in to allow foreign travel, although it remains too early to declare whether trips abroad can freely continue after May 17, according to the global travel taskforce.
A study into whether social distancing guidance will continue after June 21, when all restrictions are due to be scrapped, is dependent on the findings of Mr Gove's vaccine passport review, the document added.