Coronavirus UK: Vaccine passports 'WON'T save summer', experts say

Plans to force Britons to prove they have been vaccinated or do not have Covid to help reopen the night-time economy will not save the summer, experts said today.

Ministers have now announced a review into the use of controversial 'immunity passports' after months denying that they planned to introduce them.

Boris Johnson said he wanted to determine whether 'Covid-status certificates' could help theatres, cinemas, sporting venues and workplaces to open again.

But Sir Jonathan Montgomery, who has led an evidence review into vaccine passports, said the idea would come too late to save summer because people would need two jabs to qualify and most young people won't have both until the autumn.

The University College London professor of healthcare law told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that there were three problems his research team had identified.

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Prime Minister Boris Johnson (pictured in the House of Commons yesterday) said he wanted to determine whether 'Covid-status certificates' could help theatres and cinemas to open again

Prime Minister Boris Johnson (pictured in the House of Commons yesterday) said he wanted to determine whether 'Covid-status certificates' could help theatres and cinemas to open again 

An illustration of an example of a Covid-19 vaccination certificate which could be used

An illustration of an example of a Covid-19 vaccination certificate which could be used

Professor Sir Jonathan Montgomery from University College London, who has led an evidence review into vaccine passports, said the idea would come too late to save summer

Professor Sir Jonathan Montgomery from University College London, who has led an evidence review into vaccine passports, said the idea would come too late to save summer

He said: 'The first is the scientific one - does it work, and that all depends on this information about risk of transmission. The second is a timing issue.

'We need to reopen the economy as quickly as it's safe to do so, and vaccine passports are not going to be useful until people have had their second vaccine.

No foreign travel for Britons before May 17... but we won't know for sure until mid-April

Summer holidays abroad could begin from May 17 – but people won't know if they will be able to get away until April.

A taskforce will report on when international travel can restart by April 12, the Prime Minister said yesterday.

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But whatever its findings, curbs cannot begin being lifted earlier than May 17.

The travel industry last night said the blueprint would boost people's confidence to book foreign summer holidays and allow the hard-hit sector to prepare for a summer reopening.

Announcing the roadmap in the Commons, Boris Johnson said there was 'every chance of an aviation recovery later on this year'. 

The document also made clear talks with foreign officials over possible 'vaccine passports' to get Britons flying again will be ramped up.

But it said restarting international travel will depend on the prevalence of Covid strains and their impact on vaccine effectiveness. 

It said: 'The Government does not expect this solution to be available quickly, and restrictions like those in place across the world are likely to continue for the near future.'

Greece, Spain and Cyprus have so far expressed interest in a vaccine certification system. 

The travel industry welcomed the plans but renewed calls for the furlough scheme and business rates relief to be extended.

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, the trade body for UK-registered carriers, said: 'This will provide much needed reassurance not only to airlines in desperate need of a summer season, but families looking to visit friends and family and take a long-awaited holiday, and we know there is enormous pent-up demand for when we can restart operations.'

Foreign travel is currently allowed only for essential reasons such as work.

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'So it's not something that's going to solve the problem for summer 2021, because even on the fantastic achievements that we've had, the population that is going to use nightclubs is not going to have had its two vaccinations until at least the autumn, and we need everything open before then if we can.

'And then the third question is who gets excluded by this – so if you haven't been able to get the vaccine, you get excluded; if you for whatever reason are not appropriate to have the vaccine, or you have objections to using the vaccine, you get excluded; and those things are likely not to be evenly distributed across society.'

Sir Jonathan added that there were also 'knock-on effects', saying: 'Now if this was the only way of getting the clubs open, then we might trade off the intrusions into privacy, but if there are other ways of doing it, then we probably wouldn't want to have private information shared unnecessarily.'

The Prime Minister has confirmed that a study into vaccine and testing certificates would be one of four major reviews carried out alongside the easing of lockdown restrictions.

This is despite vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi repeatedly denying that there were plans to introduce them, saying they were 'discriminatory'.

Asked about Covid status certificates, Peter Marks, chief executive of Deltic Group, Britain's largest nightclub operator, told BBC Radio 4: 'I think at least it's workable.

'About a week ago I was asked the question on whether it was sensible to have these flow tests at the front door, waiting 30 minutes in the queue. I just laughed at the idea, it just is unworkable.

'But this sort of thing is a sensible way of trying to balance that risk and

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