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Domestic and international vaccine passports 'being considered', Raab tells LBC

14 February 2021, 09:44 | Updated: 14 February 2021, 15:35

Nick Hardinges

By Nick Hardinges

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab has told LBC the government is "considering" Covid vaccine passports for both domestic and international travel.

Speaking on LBC's Swarbrick on Sunday, the secretary of state confirmed the government "hasn't ruled out" introducing the Covid documents both within the UK and for overseas travel.

The measure would effectively require people to show their vaccine passport in order to move internationally and within Britain's borders.

Mr Raab told LBC the modalities and mechanisms for reopening the country still "need to be worked out" but that ministers are considering the introduction of domestic Covid passports.

"It's something that hasn't been ruled out and it's under consideration, but of course you've got to make it workable," he said.

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Dominic Raab told LBC domestic Covid passports are being considered
Dominic Raab told LBC domestic Covid passports are being considered. Picture: LBC

"Whether it's at an international, domestic or local level, you've got to know that the document being presented is something that you can rely on and that it's an accurate reflection of the status of the individual.

"I'm not sure there's a foolproof answer in the way that it's sometimes presented but of course we'll look at all the options."

However, a government spokesperson later told LBC: "There are no plans to introduce immunity passports for use domestically.”

Responding to the foreign secretary's comments, chair of the Covid Recovery Group (CRG) Mark Harper told LBC's Tom Swarbrick other countries are entitled to demand Covid vaccination prior to entry.

However, he said the UK should not "get to a position where we are telling people they can’t do things unless they have been vaccinated with Covid".

Read more: New Zealand announces three-day Covid lockdown in Auckland

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“For everyday life, I don’t think you want to require people to have to have a particular medical procedure before they can go about their day to day life," the CRG chair said.

"That is not how we do things in Britain.

"Obviously internationally that is up to other countries about what they require to enter their countries and obviously we will have to comply with that if we wish to travel abroad.”

Shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth told the programme he thinks Covid vaccine passports are "inevitable" for international travel and that some organisations domestically "are probably going to expect it".

"I don't think it should be compulsory," he told LBC.

"But I think the infrastructure should be put in place so that, if you've had a vaccination, you can have a sort of app on your phone or something like that to prove it."

Earlier on Sunday, former prime minister Tony Blair repeated his calls for a global coronavirus vaccine passport scheme.

He wrote in the Mail on Sunday: "We have the technology which allows us to do this securely and effectively. The need is obvious. The world is moving in this direction.

"We should plan for an agreed 'passport' now. The arguments against it really don't add up."

Mr Raab's comments come despite vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi saying last weekend that state-issued "discriminatory" immunity passports will not be rolled out.

However, he explained that those inoculated against Covid-19 will be able to ask their GP for written proof of their vaccine status if needed for 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 at the time: "There are still no current plans to roll out vaccine passports. Going on holiday is currently illegal."

On Wednesday, airline trade body the International Air Transport Association said it is in talks with the government about developing an app allowing travellers to share their coronavirus test and vaccination status.

It came as Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said he had been in discussions with counterparts in Singapore and the US about the possibility of an international certification system.

Bioethics professor Dr Jonathan Ives told LBC's Tom Swarbrick on Friday that the government would be "justified" in barring travel for those who refuse to be vaccinated if immunity passports are introduced.

Dr Ives told Tom: "Any discrimination that's based on safety, particularly concerning things that limit your own freedoms to injure the safety of others, I think are prima facie justified and justifiable.

"So I wouldn't see immunity passports as unfair per se. But there are I think legitimate concerns in the way that they might be used and enacted.

"So I think there would be caveats that they have to be used properly."

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