Wednesday 10 February 2021 10:57 am

Ministers in talks with US and Singapore over international vaccine certificate

Ministers are in discussions with other countries over the creation of an international vaccine certification system that would allow a partial resumption of travel, the transport secretary has said.

Grant Shapps told the BBC he has spoken to his counterparts in the US and Singapore about the creation of an internationally recognisable system of proving people have been vaccinated.

“Just as we have the yellow fever card… I imagine that in the future there’ll be an international system where countries will want to know that you’ve been potentially vaccinated,” he told the BBC Radio Four 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.

Shapps ruled out previous “confusion” about domestic vaccine passports for entry to venues such as pubs or restaurants.

Downing Street last week stressed that the government has no “current plans” for coronavirus immunity passports, with the vaccines minister insisting that “that’s not the way we do things” in Britain.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) also revealed that it is in discussions with ministers about the development of an app for travellers to prove they have been vaccinated, which is set to be trialled on three airlines. 

“It is a key element to certify that things have been done according to certain requirements everywhere,” said IATA’s director general Alexandre de Juniac.

Juniac said he expected the app to be ready for international rollout by the end of next month, following trials with Etihad, Emirate and Singapore airlines.

Greece last week became the latest country to suggest it will lift current border restrictions for visitors able to prove they have been immunised, with Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis telling Reuters he was “cautiously optimistic” of a lucrative summer.

Both Denmark and Sweden have announced plans to introduce digital vaccine certificates to kickstart tourism back into action after almost a year of hibernation.

The Swedish government said it hoped to implement vaccine passports by June, and would work to make the national certificates compatible with international certificates being discussed by both the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the EU.

Border force

However, Shapps has admitted that holidays may be off the cards for quite some time as Britain attempts to ward off the threat of emerging Covid variants.

“I can’t give you a definitive answer on whether we will be able to take holidays, either at home or abroad,” he told Sky News this morning. “Nobody can tell from the point at which we are sitting right now.

“What we are dealing with now are new variants, and we cannot risk it.”

It comes after the health secretary yesterday announced sweeping new measures to curb the spread of the South African Covid strain reaching British shores.

All passengers returning to the UK and Ireland from “red list” countries from Monday must quarantine at a hotel for 10 days at a cost of £1,750 per person, Matt Hancock said.

The government will take a hard line on quarantine flouters, with penalties of up to £10,000 for arrivals who fail to self-isolate at designated hotels, and jail sentences of up to 10 years for giving false information on Passenger Locator Forms.