Here's how the 'vaccine passport' for foreign travel will work

Megan Sutton
·3-min read
Photo credit: SEAN GLADWELL
Photo credit: SEAN GLADWELL

It's been over a year now since coronavirus changed our lives in a multitude of ways, with one of those changes being that we're currently not able to travel freely to countries around the world, as we used to do pre-2020.

Many holidaymakers have been forced to cancel trips and now, lots of people around the UK are eagerly awaiting the reopening of foreign travel, which is due to happen on 17 May, according to the Government's roadmap out of lockdown.

Watch: UK wants to introduce vaccine passports by mid-May

While the prospect of visiting sunnier climes and sitting at the beach with a drink in hand is exciting for some, there are difficult issues to grapple with - namely, how to ensure travellers don't spread COVID across borders.

For some time now, vaccine passports have been discussed - the basic idea is that you'd have to prove you've been vaccinated in order to do things like get on a plane or even go to a pub. While the idea has supporters, others have been critical about the ethical implications of categorising people in this way, not least because some people are unable to take a Covid jab due to medical reasons.

Despite the concerns, it seems the Government is moving forward with the idea of a vaccine passport to coincide with the reopening of foreign travel, and it will be linked to the standard NHS smartphone app (which is separate from the Test and Trace app).

Photo credit: Virojt Changyencham - Getty Images
Photo credit: Virojt Changyencham - Getty Images

The transport secretary, Grant Shapps, told Sky News today (28 April):

"I can confirm we are working on an NHS application, it will be the actual app, the NHS app that is used by people when they book appointments with the NHS and so on, to be able to show that you’ve had a vaccine or that you’ve had testing. 

"I’m working with partners internationally, with partners across the world, to make sure that that system can be internationally recognised. So that’s the way forward, and actually I’m chairing a meeting of the G7 secretaries of state for transport, my equivalent from America and Canada and all the other G7 countries next week on exactly this subject."

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The Government’s plan will apply only to England, as the three other UK nations will make their own decisions on COVID status certification within their own devolved Governments.

Grant Shapps has said that based on current statistics on the prevalence of coronavirus in the UK, the proposed roadmap is still on track. He said that within a fortnight, he'll be able to announce the countries that holidaymakers can visit without needing to quarantine when they return home. 

“We do need to make sure that we do this very, very carefully… But, in the next couple of weeks, I’ll come back on and 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," he told Sky News.

He said the green list would include 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”.

While questions still remain, it seems like - at this point - things are looking up in the near future of foreign travel.

Watch: Should I book a holiday in 2021?

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