COVID-19: Domestic vaccine certificates ‘under consideration’, Dominic Raab admits
Vaccine certificates to let Britons prove they have been inoculated against coronavirus are “under consideration”, the foreign secretary has suggested.
Dominic Raab sparked surprise by saying the idea “hasn’t been ruled out”, after it was repeatedly rubbished by some other ministers.
The documents have been mooted given the fast-paced rollout of COVID-19 jabs, as attention turns to when and how restrictions can be lifted.
Vaccines minister Nadhim Zahawi suggested in November that the government was considering “immunity passports” and suggested firms like bars and cinemas “will probably also use that system”.
But that was later rubbished by Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, who told Sky News: “I certainly am not planning to introduce any vaccine passports, and I don’t know anyone else in government who is.”
Sky News then revealed earlier this week that the Cabinet Office had drawn up a proposal to introduce vaccine and testing certificates for when international travel is allowed again, with Mr Raab’s support.
When asked on Sunday about the prospect of documents being needed domestically, for example to let a person enter a supermarket, Mr Raab told LBC: “Well it’s something that hasn’t been ruled out.
“It’s under consideration, but of course you’ve got to make it workable.
“I think the thing with when I’ve looked at this [is], whether it’s at the international, domestic or local level, you’ve got to know that the document that is being presented is something you can rely on – that it is an accurate status of the individual.
“So I’m not sure there’s a fool-proof answer in the way that sometimes it’s presented, but we’ll look at all the options.”
Asked if it was illegal to stop a person entering a restaurant or shop on the basis of their vaccine status, Mr Raab said: “In terms of the law that would apply, that’s something that’s the prerogative of the government and parliament.
“But what we want to do is make sure there’s enough confidence in the national rollout, that when we’re in a position to open non-essential retail and in due course after that hospitality, people can do so confidently.
“The legalities and the mechanisms, that all needs to be worked out. And the prime minister I said will give a clearer sense of the direction of travel on 22 February.”
A source close to Mr Raab clarified afterwards he had been taking about the issue in general and not specifically supermarkets, adding vaccine certificates are more being thought about for international travel than domestic use.
Speaking to Sophy Ridge On Sunday, Mr Raab resisted calls from dozens of Tory MPs who are urging the government to lift restrictions in May, when all the top nine priority groups should have been offered a coronavirus vaccine.
He refused to set an “arbitrary target” and added ministers will continue to be “evidence-led”.
Sky News understands the government is aiming to have all schools open on 8 March, but sources say that is dependent on the data and hospital pressures
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