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Vaccination passport: Foreign office says government will 'help facilitate'

Greece has said it would waive quarantine rules for arrivals who can prove they have been vaccinated against Covid-19
Emma Bowden, Press Association

The British Government will work with other countries to "help facilitate" coronavirus immunity passports if they are required by destinations abroad, a minister has said.

Foreign Office minister James Cleverly said it would be up to the individual countries where holidaymakers are arriving to decide on their own border arrangements.

But he said it was "not an uncommon practice" for countries to require documents on inoculations and that the government would work with international partners on this.

It follows reports in the Times that British officials have started work on an official certification programme after Greece said it would waive quarantine rules for arrivals who can prove they have been vaccinated against Covid-19.

Mr Cleverly told BBC Radio 4's Today programme today: "The decisions that individual countries make about their own incoming arrangements is obviously up to them.

"We are incredibly proud of the speed and the breadth of our vaccination rollout and of course, I think the whole world hopes, that the vaccination programme will be a way of getting back to normality."

Asked if the UK would help in providing certificates, he said: "It is often the case that the entry requirements for countries are for vaccines or inoculations, and that is not an uncommon practice.

"We will work with international partners to help facilitate their border arrangements and their immigration arrangements."

Mr Cleverly told Sky News that at present most countries, including the UK, require a negative test result on arrival.

"And we'll have to see what countries, what the international community, put in place once vaccines around the world are as effectively distributed, as they are here in the UK," he added.

Later on Friday, Downing Street said the government has no "current plans" for coronavirus immunity passports but this would be kept under review.

A No 10 spokesman said: "There are still no current plans to roll out vaccine passports. Going on holiday is currently illegal."

According to the Times, the Foreign Office, Department for Transport and Department of Health and Social Care are working on arrangements should countries require proof of vaccination as a condition of entry.

British tourists may be welcomed to Greece in May provided they can provide proof they have received the coronavirus jab, the newspaper reports.

Former health secretary Jeremy Hunt said having coronavirus immunity passports was a "very sensible policy" and that other countries had shown how such schemes can work".

"I think it is a very sensible policy and I know that the government is looking at how that might work," he told BBC Radio 4's World At One.

"You need something that shows whether someone has had a vaccine and whether they have been tested recently.

"And I think other parts of the world have shown how these schemes can work quite effectively."

Meanwhile, Jim McMahon, Labour's shadow transport secretary, said: "Our priority at the moment must be to secure our borders against the threat of a mutation to the Covid that would undermine the vaccine.

"Labour will look at proposals around helping to allow people to travel safely, but this must be led by the science."

Read more: Denmark to develop digital passport proving coronavirus vaccination

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