Brits urged to join EU’s new vaccine passport scheme in bid to save summer holidays

Grant Shapps outlines the 'way forward' for vaccine passports

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Its so-called “Digital Green Pass” will be fully operational by the end of June to kickstart tourism and offer a boost to pandemic-stricken economies. Along with vaccinations, the certificate will include information on an individual’s most recent Covid test results and the presence of antibodies. To avoid delays, the EU will open up the scheme to third country travellers while eurocrats hold talks with foreign governments to open up possible safe travel routes in the future.

European Commission officials say they are currently working on plans to recognise similar schemes being drawn up by the UK and US.

One said: “For third countries, technically it’s very simple.

“If there’s an agreement with a third country, then the public keys of the third countries can be loaded into the system and then given to the verifiers.”

Trials for the EU application will begin in the coming weeks with a pledge for the scheme to be up and running by the end of June.

The system is initially aimed at reopening free movement within Europe so will not automatically guarantee access to continental beaches.

But Brussels has promised to work with member states that have vowed to throw open their borders to Britons in the coming months.

Spain and Greece have announced plans to welcome back British holidaymakers this summer to boost their pandemic-stricken economies.

Madrid said Britons will only be welcome if Spaniards can come here on the same terms – the virus passport.

The Department for Transport has announced similar plans to enable British travellers to go on foreign holidays after May 17.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps is holding talks with counterparts from the US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and Japan next week to secure an agreement on international standards for coronavirus passports.

He said: “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.

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“I’m working internationally…to make sure that system can be internationally recognised, as that’s the way forward.”

But the transport chief said that while the UK is managing to bring down Covid rates, the picture is different elsewhere.

He added: “The rest of the world currently has the highest seven-day average ever since this pandemic started.

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“So we are not out of the woods yet internationally, and this is of course about international travel. We do have to do that in a cautious manner and make sure it’s safe to do.”

Mr Shapps warned it is still to early to say whether Britons can travel to Spain without having to quarantine on their return to the UK.

He added: “Spain specifically, I’m afraid I just don’t have the answer…because [Government scientific advisers] the Joint Biosecurity Centre will need to come up with their assessment and we can’t do that until a bit nearer the time. So we will need to wait and see.”

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