U.K. Talking With Other Nations on Vaccine Proof for Travel
(Bloomberg) -- U.K. travelers may need to prove they’ve been vaccinated against Covid-19 to enter some countries, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said, confirming ministers are in talks with overseas counterparts on the issue.
While Hancock stressed the government isn’t planning to make inoculation a condition of entry to the U.K., other nations he didn’t identify are “actively” debating the measure. Officials are looking at how to provide the necessary certification to British travelers who need it, he told Sky News on Monday.
“In that case it will be important for people from the U.K. to be able to show whether or not they have been vaccinated in order to travel,” Hancock said. “We are working with countries around the world on the basis for this and how that vaccine certification can happen in a way that is assured.”
The U.K. is one of the countries that’s gotten shots into its population the fastest, leading to calls for so-called vaccine passports to open the door to travel. For now, governments have mostly relied on infection rates to guide travel policies with other nations, along with measures like quarantines and pre-flight testing to stem the risks.
Industry groups were mostly positive, though they cautioned that relying on vaccine status would create its own set of complications. While carriers back an exemption from other travel curbs for those who have had the jab, vaccinations “shouldn’t be a prerequisite for travel,” according to lobby group Airlines UK.
Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. said in an email that it’s encouraged to see the emphasis on creating a road map out of current restrictions, and that discussions are being held at an international level. A common approach is needed within Europe at least, according to the Airport Operators Association. Discount carrier Wizz Air Holdings Plc cautioned against excluding some segments of the population when creating unified policies.
The U.K. itself began a stricter quarantine program Monday for arrivals from high-risk countries. Travelers arriving from coronavirus hotspots will be required to quarantine in government-managed hotel rooms for 10 days and pay 1,750 pounds ($2,430) for doing so.
In addition to ruling out demanding vaccination proof for arriving travelers, Hancock also told BBC radio the government has no plan for any domestic vaccine passport system for those seeking access to certain services or to work in certain jobs.
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