No role for vaccine certificates in the first reopening of England: Minister

© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: People drinking outside a pub that is open takeout in London

LONDON (Reuters) – Vaccine certificates don’t have to go to a pub or restaurant in England when they reopen, COVID Vaccine Use Minister Nadhim Zahawi said Tuesday, adding that there are no longer-term decisions about their use were hit.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Monday gave the go-ahead for England to take the next step in easing its third national lockdown, but provided few details on how vaccine certification works.

Step 2 of a roadmap that outlines plans to gradually reopen the economy over the coming months will see shops and pub gardens reopen next week, while the indoor hospitality venues will reopen in Step 3 in May.

“Domestically, in Step 2, which we come to (and) Step 3, there will be absolutely no problems with pubs or restaurants that require any form of certification,” Zahawi told Sky News.

“But it’s only responsible for seeing how this virus behaves, for seeing how other countries are using technology to make sure they keep the virus under control. Then we should look at the same thing.”

Some lawmakers in Johnson’s party reject the idea that proof of COVID status might be required to go to a pub or restaurant, arguing that such a system could jeopardize the creation of a two-tier society.

Johnson has said he expected vaccination records to play a role in international travel, but there were ethical questions about a certification system that only considered vaccination status.

Zahawi said any system should be non-discriminatory, suggesting it would include data on COVID-19 tests, not just vaccines. But he added no decision had been made and lawmakers would vote on plans.

On international trips, Johnson said he was confident it could restart in May but it was too early to be sure, adding that a task force would report this week on how a reasonable plan for a restart would be the trip might look like.

The British Airways chief executive said he was optimistic that international travel could resume on May 17, the earliest possible date on the government roadmap.

“We remain optimistic that this will happen,” said BA CEO Sean Doyle in an online briefing.

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