The British government’s effort to create a digital “vaccine passport” app has officially been embraced by the UK’s former Continental partners.
As the EU scrambles to implement a vaccine-passport system that will enable tourists from wealthy vaccinated countries (like the US and UK) to flock to beaches in Greece and Spain over the summer, British Transport Secretary Grant Shapps revealed in a TV interview Thursday that he will be able to give details on which countries have made it on to the UK’s “green list” “in the next couple of weeks”.
The introduction of the UK’s “Green List” follows a series of US State Department Travel Advisories that placed 80% of the world’s countries on the highest level travel advisory. But while the US advisory carries no restrictions, the UK’s “green list” will feature all the countries where Britons can travel without being required to quarantine upon their return (though they will still need to be tested for COVID-19 upon their return).
“…in the next couple of weeks, 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 are 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.
“I think people are getting very used to testing now, not least because we provide testing up to twice a week for everyone in the country right now. So I don’t think a test itself is a big deal.
Shapps also confirmed an NHS app will be used to allow Britons to demonstrate whether they have had a COVID jab, or tested negative for the virus, before traveling abroad.
“It will be the NHS app that is used for people when they book appointments with the NHS and so on, to be able to show you’ve had a vaccine or that you’ve had testing,” he added.
“I’m working internationally with partners across the world to make sure that system can be internationally recognised.”
Government sources clarified the app would not be the NHS COVID app – currently used to “check in” to venues such as pubs and restaurants for contact-tracing purposes – but would instead be the NHS app used to book general appointments.
Shapps added that he was awaiting data from the government’s Joint Biosecurity Center, which is necessary to state which countries would be deemed “green”, “amber” or “red” under the traffic light system.
He also reiterated that there was a need to be “very cautious” about allowing Britons to freely travel abroad again.
“Beyond our shores we are seeing the highest levels of coronavirus that we have seen so far in the entire pandemic, right now,” he added.
“So we do need to make sure we do this very, very carefully – we don’t want to throw away the lockdown, we don’t want to throw away our remarkable rollout in this country of the vaccination.
Meanwhile, European nations are eager to welcome British tourists as they hope this summer will see a significant improvement over last year. Portugal’s ambassador to the UK, Manuel Lobo Antunes, told Sky News he was “hopeful” British travelers would be able to return to Portugal by the middle of next month.