The possible introduction of domestic vaccination certificates in England was described as “useful for us in the further course”, but also classified as “dangerous” and “discriminatory”.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has suggested that vaccine certification must play a role as the nation looks for ways to get out of lockdown safely.
However, a bipartisan group of politicians, including some Conservative MPs, fear that a vaccination record system could be “divisive”.
Here the PA news agency is investigating how they might work and why they are controversial.
How could a vaccination record work?
Each scheme likely goes beyond just showing whether someone has received a vaccine – since jolts are not mandatory – but also covers whether they have had Covid-19 and are therefore likely to have antibodies, or whether they recently had a negative test.
The full details of how a system might work are still unclear, but the government is expected to release an update of its plans this month.
Where could they be used?
Minister of Culture Oliver Dowden has suggested that vaccination records should not be introduced permanently, but could be a useful short-term tool for the safe reopening of venues.
This could potentially include restaurants, music venues and theaters.
Mr Johnson has suggested that a certificate could give “maximum confidence” to businesses and customers in reopening society.
Last week, he said it was “possibly a matter for individual tax collectors” to conduct health checks on punters before letting them into their premises.
This could mean that public houses could be able to eliminate social distancing if they check Covid health certificates upon entry and allow them to work at much higher capacity.
At the international level, some countries are already working on requirements for people to prove their status before they arrive. The European Union is working on a digital green certificate that will show whether someone has been vaccinated, has a negative test or has recovered from Covid-19.
Has there been any resistance to the idea?
More than 70 MPs, including 40 Conservatives, as well as colleagues from the House of Lords, have campaigned against the introduction of vaccination cards in England, claiming they are “divisive and discriminatory”.
A pledge signed by former Labor leader Jeremy Corbyn, as well as other prominent figures such as Conservative former leader Sir Iain Duncan-Smith, former Shadow Labor Chancellor John McDonnell and former Lib Dem leader Tim Farron warns the government against introduce the program.
Baroness Chakrabarti, who warns that the use of coronavirus certificates could create a “Checkpoint Britain”, told BBC Radio 4’s Today program: “It is one thing to have a passport to travel internationally, it is one Privilege, even a luxury, but participation in the local community Life is a fundamental right. “
What about the hotel industry?
The British Beer and Pub Association (BPPA) fears a move towards recommending that pubs and other eateries require proof of immunity from people in order to enter – with the threat of fines for venues if they are not compliant – Millions of people could prevent teenagers from visiting the pub for months unless they get tested beforehand.
Emma McClarkin, executive director of BBPA, says vaccination records may feel like discriminating against segments of the population who haven’t had the sting, like pregnant women.
Are test events planned?
A number of pilot tests are reportedly planned for certificates, which could include the FA Cup finals and other sporting events in May.
The England and Wales Cricket Board is also looking into the possibility of using coronavirus passports to allow fans to play county championship games this summer.
Turning to June 21st, Neil Snowball, ECB General Manager for County Cricket said, “It will be about reconciling three things.
“Firstly, if there is to be some kind of passport or Covid certification, secondly, tests, thirdly, some kind of social distancing, and we have said we will do everything we can to make sure we can get the maximum number of people back.
“The ideal would be some kind of certification with some element of social distancing and probably wearing masks.”
What problems could delay the plans?
The easing of restrictions depends on the continued success of the coronavirus vaccine rollout and further reductions in infection rates.
Sports event capacities will also be determined by the success of a series of pilot events that will take place from mid-April.