Ministers are planning to use vaccine passports as a short-term ‘bridge to freedom’ before full herd immunity is achieved in the autumn, The Mail on Sunday understands.
Under the plans, all Covid-related restrictions would be relaxed as planned under Boris Johnson’s roadmap on June 21 – but with the passports allowing the return of mass public gatherings in the summer.
This would include the return of capacity crowds for the start of the Premier League season in August.
Ministers are planning to use vaccine passports as a short-term ‘bridge to freedom’ before full herd immunity is achieved in the autumn – as plans would include the return of capacity crowds for the start of the Premier League season in August (stock image)
The ‘Covid status certificates’, which would show whether the bearer had recently tested negative for the disease or had antibodies either through a vaccination or past infection, would be discontinued when a large enough proportion of the community has immunity to coronavirus to halt its spread.
One report last week argued that this herd immunity had already been reached, but cautious Government projections currently put that point at the end of October.
The use of the passports is likely to be restricted to public gatherings such as sporting events or theatre productions, as the logisitics of using them for pubs and restaurants are proving to be formidable.
As one Cabinet Minister says: ‘There may be some benefits. But when you look at the practicalities of implementing it, and the actual utility of implementing the system, it just isn’t worth it.’
The ‘Covid status certificates’ would show whether the bearer had recently tested negative for the disease or had antibodies either through a vaccination or past infection (stock image)
Under the Prime Minister’s roadmap, larger outdoor sports venues would be allowed to operate at up to 25 per cent capacity from May 17, with a maximum of 10,000 spectators, while Wembley Stadium will only have a maximum of 50 per cent capacity for the latter stages of the Euro 2020 matches in July. But passports could open the way for full-capacity events.
The Minister said: ‘It may be the choice we’re looking at is the opening day of the Premiership with 20,000 to 30,000 supporters without Covid passports, or starting the season with the passports or some other system with 60,000.
‘It’s obviously still a bit of a moveable feast, but on the current data we think we’ll reach herd immunity some time in October. So the question is, what can we do to manage things like major events in the meantime?’
A senior Government source said: ‘It is impossible to know for sure, because there are so many moving parts in this pandemic. The uncertainty is over winter and the potential for a resurgence, but the data is looking good at the moment.’
Under the Prime Minister’s roadmap, larger outdoor sports venues would be allowed to operate at up to 25 per cent capacity from May 17, with a maximum of 10,000 spectators (Pictured: Crowds at Glastonbury)
Modelling by University College London last week suggested the proportion of the population with protection against the coronavirus had hit 73.4 per cent. The Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies has stated that 75 per cent need to be vaccinated for the UK to achieve herd immunity.
However, Health Secretary Matt Hancock – keen not to slow the Government’s vaccine rollout – played down the data, saying scientists had told him the threshold had not yet been reached.
More than 40 Tory MPs have opposed the idea, meaning Mr Johnson could struggle to get the plan through Parliament. Ministers have held talks with Israeli officials over importing the technology for its Green Pass scheme, which lets those who have been vaccinated or had Covid enter places such as concert venues and gyms.
And 63% of voters agree in MoS poll
An exclusive Mail on Sunday poll (left) has found the use of the vaccine passport documents was backed by 63 per cent of respondents, with 25 per cent opposed
Voters overwhelmingly back the use of vaccine passports as a ‘bridge to freedom’, an exclusive Mail on Sunday poll has found.
The use of ‘Covid status’ documents was backed by 63 per cent of respondents to the Deltapoll survey, with 25 per cent opposed.
Some 66 per cent would feel comfortable using them for the pub, 62 per cent for the office, 67 per cent for hairdressers, 68 per cent for supermarkets, 65 per cent for sports events and 70 per cent for holidays abroad.
Boris Johnson’s relaxation of many of the rules tomorrow brings a collective sigh of relief across the nation, with the return to pubs, restaurants and shops welcomed by most people. The most popular change is the return of visits to the homes of friends and family, backed by 86 per cent.
The announcement last week that the Oxford-AstraZeneca jab had been linked to extremely rare blood clots is reflected in the fact that the Pfizer jab is deemed the best option by 27 per cent of people, followed by 16 per cent for Oxford and 5 per cent for the new Moderna jab. A total of 36 per cent do not have a preference. Of those vaccinated, 50 per cent say they had minor side-effects, 5 per cent major side-effects and 45 per cent experienced none.
Deltapoll co-founder and director Joe Twyman said introducing the passports before sufficient people have been vaccinated ‘could undermine their popularity’.
The firm interviewed 1,608 British adults online from April 8-10, weighting the data to represent the adult population.