Grant Shapps outlines the 'way forward' for vaccine passports
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Grant Shapps confirmed an NHS app will be used to allow Brits to show whether they’ve had a Covid vaccine or tested negative for the virus before travelling abroad. Mr Shapps said on Wednesday morning: “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 you have had a vaccine or that you’ve had testing.” Mr Shapps added he is “working internationally with partners across the world to make sure that system can be recognised internationally”.
Which countries can you use the NHS app for?
Government sources clarified the app would not be the current NHS Covid app used to sign in to venues like pubs and restaurants for contact tracing purposes.
Instead, it will be the NHS app used to book general appointments.
As things stand, it’s not entirely sure which countries you’ll be able to use the app with.
Mr Shapps said he was awaiting data from the Government’s Joint Biosecurity Centre before being able to state which countries will be dubbed ‘green’, ‘amber’ and ‘red’.
While the countries haven’t yet been announced, speculation has suggested countries including Barbados, Israel, Morocco, the Maldives, the Seychelles, Grenada and St Lucia could be among the nations on the green list.
Chief executive of the travel consultancy firm PC Agency, Paul Charles said Government sources had given a list of mainly island destinations with high vaccination rates and low Covid infections.
He suggested it is “highly likely” 20 to 30 countries could be on the green list from the very beginning of travel reopening.
Mr Charles said on his blog: “I still understand from my high-level sources, and believe, that all of Europe, and countries such as Turkey will be either amber or green in the first traffic light map.”
Spain is also likely to be on the Government’s green list, with Spanish tourism secretary Fernando Valdes saying he wanted UK holidaymakers to “restart holidays” within six weeks or so.
He told the Telegraph: “We are desperate to welcome you this summer. We have been having constant conversations with UK authorities.”
Mr Valdes is likely to get on board with the NHS app method, adding: “I believe that [vaccine] certificates is going to help us.
“Since the beginning of the pandemic we have been trying to put in place different means to help safe tourism.”
Mr Shapps did, however, warn there was a need to be “very cautious” about allowing Brits to travel abroad freely once more.
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He said: “Beyond our shores we are seeing the highest levels of coronavirus that we have seen so far in the entire pandemic, right now.
“So we do need to make sure we do this very, very carefully – we don’t want to throw away the lockdown, we don’t want to throw away our remarkable rollout in this country of the vaccination.
“But in the next couple of weeks, 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 are 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.
“I think people are getting very used to testing now, not least because we provide testing up to twice a week for everyone in the country right now. So I don’t think a test itself is a big deal.”
Mr Shapps said the Government would be monitoring vaccination rates, infection levels, concerns about coronavirus variants, and the accuracy of a country’s Covid reporting when deciding which colour a country will be given.
Portugal’s ambassador to the UK, Manuel Lobo Antunes, said he was “hopeful” British holidaymakers could be allowed to travel to his country by the middle of May.
International travel is expected to resume on May 17, and Mr Shapps has said there is no data to show this date will be delayed.
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