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Covid vaccine passports ‘only short-term’ before UK reaches ‘herd immunity by October’

The Government believes vaccine passports could offer a temporary “bridge to freedom” before the population achieves herd immunity in the autumn, it has been reported.

Ministers have suggested the passes will not be needed for entry to pubs and restaurants for now, but might allow large gatherings to take place this summer – and could even herald the return of capacity crowds before the Premier League season kicks off in August.

This is according to The Mail on Sunday, which says the ‘Covid status certificates’ would be discontinued when enough people have immunity and the virus stops spreading.

The Government has been reviewing whether to launch passes for people who have been jabbed.

The certificates may also allow those who have not been vaccinated to show proof of negative tests or antibodies.

Dr Karen Worth prepares to administer a dose of the AstraZeneca/Oxford Covid-19 vaccine to a patient at a vaccination centre set up at the Fiveways Islamic Centre and Mosque in Nottingham, central England, on February 22, 2021
Brits may only have to carry vaccine passports for a short while

There has been fierce debate around their use, and the Government has not yet set out a full, official plan. It has said proving Covid status is “likely to become a feature of our lives”, but it is still not clear when the certificates will be required.

Pubs, shops and restaurants will be allowed to reopen indoor areas without them on May 17, but they may have to introduce them later.

Ministers have said that using them for pubs and restaurants represents a logistical challenge.

Rangers supporters wave Union Jack flags during the Clydesdale Bank Premier League match between Rangers and Celtic at Ibrox Stadium salutes his supporters
Vaccine passports could offer a way to resume full-capacity sporting events

One Cabinet Minister told The Mail on Sunday: “There may be some benefits. But when you look at the practicalities of implementing it, and the actual utility of implementing the system, it just isn’t worth it.”

The passes are likely to be needed at public gatherings such as concerts and sports matches, and could eventually allow full-capacity events to take place at large venues, which are due to have numbers limited according to the current coronavirus roadmap.

The NHS has been working on providing both “digital and non-digital” ways for people to show their vaccine, testing or antibody status.

Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson gives an update on the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic during a virtual press conference inside the new Downing Street Briefing Room in central London on April 5, 2021
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s roadmap is being heavily scrutinised

The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies has stated that 75 per cent of the population needs to be vaccinated for the UK to achieve herd immunity. As it stands, Government projections put that point at the end of October.

In a report published on Monday, the Government said “there are some settings (such as essential public services, public transport and essential shops) where COVID-status certification should never be required, in order to ensure access for all.”

It did not give detail on whether they would be needed for non-essential shops, like clothes shops, book stores and electronics outlets.

A busy Northumberland Street in Newcastle.
The Government believes herd immunity could be reached by October

The Prime Minister’s official spokesperson said that “longer term there will be some essential services such as essential retail and public transport where they will not be required.”

The spokesperson made it clear that Covid passports would not come in before the final stage of the roadmap – after June 21.

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