Michael Gove says vaccine passport decision is ‘finely balanced’ but could hasten return to economic and social life
ichael Gove said a vaccine passport program to enter sites could help ‘economic and social life return faster’, but there is no guarantee that it will go into effect when Covid restrictions end .
The Cabinet Office minister warned that “finely balanced” benefits must be set against any “hassle” of their implementation.
Mr Gove led a review of the government’s use of Covid status certification, visiting Israel as part of the process to assess the effectiveness of a similar ‘green pass’ program deployed in the country of Middle East.
He told the Committee on Public Administration and Constitutional Affairs that while a similar system was introduced in Britain, it was still intended for a limited period of time.
Asking people to prove their Covid status could allow large events, such as football matches, to resume at full capacity if coronavirus restrictions appear likely to remain in place.
Mr Gove’s review of the potential use of Covid Status Certification – which would include not only vaccine details, but also if anyone has a negative test result – was due to be reported this month, but this has now been delayed until the Commons returned from a vacation in the week of June 7th.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said that if such a program proved too costly or too ‘complicated’ for the hospitality industry, then the government would not pursue it.
The NHS app has already been changed to allow users to prove their vaccination status and Mr Gove said more changes are underway so test results can also be reported.
Asked by MPs to what extent, in his opinion, the costs and benefits of certification of Covid status were balanced, he replied: “Finely balanced”.
The Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster said that there were “some important important factors” to take into account, but that this could help “economic and social life … to come back more quickly”.
He said the possible introduction of passports was not necessarily tied to the next stage of the roadmap on June 21 at the earliest.
Mr. Gove said: “We looked at every step of the way what impact certification might or might not have on the economy.
“So to take a case in point, if we want to see the restoration of Premier League football, which I certainly do, then for that to happen we would like to have, and even Premier League teams would also want. have their stadiums full to their maximum capacity.
“Certification can play a role in this if the alternative were, for example, to pursue social distancing and other forms of restrictions such as crowd capacity limits.
“So in this sense, and this is just one example, the deployment of certification and investment in this infrastructure would allow the economic and social life of the country to return more quickly and safely.”
Mr Gove said there were “friction costs” associated with certification as testing would have to be continued for those who had not been vaccinated.
Mr Gove denied that vaccine passports were a way to encourage take-up of the shots and said many sites would be excluded from the measures.
The cabinet minister said public transport operators, libraries, government buildings, job centers and essential retail businesses would not be allowed to apply for someone’s Covid status prior to entry, if the program was in place.
Dr Susan Hopkins, acting chief medical adviser for NHS Test and Trace, said the data indicated that opening events to those vaccinated or to those who could prove they had already contracted Covid or were negative could halve the risk of transmission.