UK citizens may have to present a vaccine passport before entering pubs and restaurants
02/21/2021 // Ramon Tomey // Views

U.K. Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs Dominic Raab suggested that Britons may have to present a coronavirus vaccine passport before being allowed inside a pub or restaurant. Raab mentioned the plan on Feb. 14 and stated that it was just one of many proposals under consideration by the British government.

Downing Street has been proposing the use of vaccine passports to allow U.K. citizens to fly abroad for summer vacation. Prime Minister Boris Johnson insinuated that these vaccine passports could serve as a key to unlock many activities previously forbidden under coronavirus-related restrictions. But Raab's statement marked the first time a cabinet minister suggested their use in a domestic setting.

The state secretary told radio station LBC that vaccine passports "[haven't] been ruled out" and are "under consideration," but these have to be first made "workable." He remarked: "Whether it is on the international, domestic or local level – [your confidence toward] the document being presented is something you can rely on."

Raab responded to the question of whether vaccine passports may be forged or not: "I am not sure there is a fool-proof answer in the way [they are] sometimes presented. But we will look at all the options." As for what form the passport would take and if it would be done electronically, he said: "When we're in that different world – which I hope will be as soon as possible – then all kinds of apps and … possibilities [for vaccine passports] will be open to us."


However, not everyone on Downing Street is on the same boat as Raab. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said on Feb. 15 that the idea of a vaccine passport "is not anything we are planning to introduce." He confirmed to Sky News host Niall Patterson that a vaccine passport will only be important when traveling to other countries.

"It will be important for people from the U.K. to be able to show whether or not they have been vaccinated in order to travel, so we are working with countries around the world," Hancock said.

When Patterson asked if a vaccine passport was necessary to go to pubs when they open, Hancock answered in the negative. "We do not have plans to do that," he told the host.

Vaccine passports slowly being introduced despite officials' hesitation

Hancock's statement echoed those by another cabinet official also denying plans of a vaccine passport. Parliamentary Undersecretary of State for COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment Nadhim Zahawi said the U.K. government has "no plan of introducing a vaccine passport" as they were not compulsory in the country.

"That's not how we do things in the U.K., we do them by consent. We don't know [yet] what the impact of vaccines on [COVID-19] transmission is, and it would be discriminatory," he commented during his Feb. 7 appearance in The Andrew Marr Show.

But Zahawi noted that people can obtain proof of vaccination from their doctors if they need to travel to countries requiring such documents saying: "If other countries require you to show proof of that evidence, then that is obviously up to those countries."

While British politicians have denied that vaccine passports are necessary, international airlines have fully embraced the concept. Some carriers have implemented rules mandating passengers to show proof of vaccination at the risk of being prevented from flying.

Singapore Airlines released a statement in December 2020 announcing the commencement of trials for a digital health verification system. The Lion City's flag carrier described the system as "a faster and more secure way to validate a passenger's health credentials" compared to the existing protocol. (Related: Here it comes: If you want to board a plane or travel internationally, you're going to have to have a COVID "vaccine passport.")

Singapore Airlines Acting Senior Vice President of Marketing and Planning JoAnn Tan said: "COVID-19 tests and vaccinations will be an integral part of air travel for the foreseeable future." She added that the digital health verification system "supports the industry's safe and calibrated recovery" from the pandemic.

Earlier, Australian flag carrier Qantas expressed its intent to make COVID-19 vaccination mandatory for passengers taking its flights. Qantas CEO Alan Joyce said during an interview with Australian news program A Current Affair that Wuhan coronavirus vaccinations would be a "necessity" for international travelers. "We are looking at changing our terms and conditions to say, for international travelers, that we will ask people to have a vaccination before they can get on the aircraft," he said.

Joyce continued that mandatory jabs will become a new reality for travelers coming from other countries. "I think that's going to be a common thing to my colleagues in other airlines around the globe," he commented. has more news about vaccine passports and other similar measures put in place amid the ongoing pandemic.

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