Grant Shapps says vaccine passports COULD happen for foreign travel

Grant Shapps says vaccine passports COULD happen after talks with US officials over ‘internationally recognised system’ despite No10 ruling them out – as airlines’ boss reveals ‘fruitful’ talks about an app for travellers that could be ready by APRIL

  • Shapps said he has been in discussions with counterparts in Singapore and US 
  • Downing Street has insisting for weeks that it has no plans for such documents
  • Iata revealed ‘fruitful’ Government talks about vaccination app for travellers

Grant Shapps revealed today he has had talks with foreign politicians about an  ‘internationally recognised system’ of allowing travellers to prove they have had a Covid jab.

The Transport Secretary made the admission despite Downing Street insisting for weeks that it has no plans to introduce ‘vaccine passports’ that would prove the holder’s coronanvirus immunity. 

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.’

However, as recently as Sunday Vaccines Minister Nadhim Zahawi ruled out the prospect of state-issued documentation showing whether someone has had a coronavirus vaccine to allow them to go abroad.

However, with some countries expected in the future to insist on proof of vaccination as a condition of entry, he said travellers will be able to obtain written proof from their doctor to show to border officials.

It came as the head of an airline industry body revealed it was in talks with the Government about a coronavirus vaccination app for travellers.

The Transport Secretary made the admission despite Downing Street insisting for weeks that it has no plans to introduce ‘vaccine passports’ that would prove the holder’s coronanvirus immunity

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.

Last week, Downing Street said the Government has no ‘current plans’ for coronavirus immunity passports amid reports that British officials have started work on a certification programme.

A No 10 spokesman said: ‘There are still no current plans to roll out vaccine passports. Going on holiday is currently illegal.’

Asked whether the Government is considering issuing vaccine passports, Mr Zahawi told Sophy Ridge on Sky News: ‘No, we’re not. One, we don’t know the impact of the vaccines on transmission. 

‘Two, it would be discriminatory and I think the right thing to do is to make sure that people come forward to be vaccinated because they want to rather than it be made in some way mandatory through a passport.

‘If other countries obviously require some form of proof, then you can ask your GP because your GP will hold your records and that will then be able to be used as your proof you’ve had the vaccine. But we are not planning to have a passport in the UK.’

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.

England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said today that it is ‘certainly plausible’ that countries will insist that people have received a Covid-19 vaccine before allowing them to travel.

England’s deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van-Tam said today that it is ‘certainly plausible’ that countries will insist that people have received a Covid-19 vaccine before allowing them to travel.

He stressed that the British position had never been that there should be mandatory vaccinations.

But Professor Van-Tam told the BBC: ‘I can’t tell you how other countries are going to react to us, react to the idea of international travel in the post-Covid pandemic world, and whether in fact other countries will themselves insist that visitors are vaccinated, I don’t know the answer to that.

‘And I don’t think other countries yet know the answer to that. ‘

He said it was ‘certainly plausible that people will start to frame things that way’ because of concerns about the spread of variants.

‘People are very cautious at the moment about new variants and where we can take all around the world.’

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