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NHS app will be used as Covid ‘passport’ to confirm vaccination status

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The government has announced that holidaymakers will use the existing NHS app to display evidence that they have been vaccinated or tested for coronavirus.

The Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said that the app – which is currently used to book medical appointments and order repeat prescriptions – will confirm that the user has been vaccinated or recently tested negative.

“In terms of vaccine certification, I can confirm we are working on an NHS application - actually, 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 you’ve had testing,” Shapps told Sky News. “I’m working internationally with partners across the world to make sure that system can be internationally recognised, as that’s the way forward.”

Shapps added that he will be “chairing a meeting of the G7 secretaries of state for transport, my equivalents from America and Canada and all the G7 countries, next week, on exactly this subject.”

Commenting on the planned resumption of international travel for leisure for England on May 17, Shapps said: “I have to say that so far the data does continue to look good from a UK perspective, notwithstanding those concerns about where people might be travelling to and making sure we’re protected from the disease being reimported.”

Governments are assessing options for proving vaccination status in order to permit international holidays this summer; this must be digital (such as a QR code or app) to avoid delays at airports. Uncertainties remain about whether border agencies, airlines and airports will accept nationally issued vaccine passports without a recognised global standard.

The European Commission has announced plans to roll out coronavirus vaccine certificates (“Digital Green Certificates”) across the bloc, allowing holidaymakers to travel across the continent this summer. The certificates will confirm that the user has had a vaccination, received a negative test result or recovered from infection.

Meanwhile, the global airline industry body IATA is launching its own digital travel pass for vaccination and test results.

Manuel Lobo Antunes, the Portuguese Ambassador to the UK, told Sky News that he hopes British holidaymakers could visit the country again from mid-May. The Spanish tourism minister Fernando Valdes Verelst confirmed that his country (Britain’s most popular holiday destination) would welcome tourists back in June.

“Spain is going to be ready in June to use this digital certificate. We are doing a pilot programme in May in all our 46 airports. We are going to give all these travellers that certainty,” Verelst said.

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