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NHS app will be used as Covid ‘vaccine passport’ for foreign travel

Posted at Apr 28, 2021

International travellers will be asked to demonstrate their Covid vaccination and testing status using the NHS smartphone app, the UK government has confirmed, as the transport secretary promised to release a list of possible holiday destinations within a fortnight.

Grant Shapps said work had started on developing the app many people use to book appointments with their GPs so that it can show whether they have been vaccinated and tested for the virus.

But he was coy about when people would be able to start travelling abroad for holidays in interviews on Wednesday morning, saying the public would have to “wait and see” when they could go to some of the most popular foreign holiday destinations.

“Spain specifically, I’m afraid I just don’t have the answer to that because the Joint Biosecurity Centre will need to come up with their assessment and we can’t do that until a bit nearer the time,” he told Times Radio.

Covid rates in popular tourist destinations

Speaking to Sky News, Shapps said he would be able to announce within a fortnight which countries people would be able to visit without needing to quarantine when they returned and added that domestic coronavirus statistics were on track for the government to enable the resumption of foreign holidays next month.

“I have to say that so far the data does continue to look good from a UK perspective, notwithstanding those concerns about where people might be travelling to and making sure we’re protected from the disease being reimported.”

He added: “We do need to make sure that we do this very, very carefully … But, in the next couple of weeks, I’ll come back on and I’ll be able to tell you about which countries will have made it into the traffic light system – and that green list in particular.”

He said the green list would include the “countries where you’ll be able to go to, without needing to quarantine on your return, you will still need to take a pre-departure test, and one test on your return”.

Asked how the lists would be decided, he said: “There will be four factors that we will be looking at when we look at a country: we will be looking at their rates of vaccination; we will also want to look at the rates of coronavirus in that country; how many concerns there are about various mutations of the virus in that particular place; and how accurate we believe the reporting to be.”

He added: “In terms of vaccine certification, I can confirm we are working on an NHS application – actually, it will be the NHS app that is used for people when they book appointments with the NHS and so on – to be able to show that you have had a vaccine or that you’ve had testing.”

Recent reports had suggested ministers were planning such a move, with some saying businesses in England could also use it to determine whetherto allow someone to come in.