The government’s failure to engage with eight fundamental questions over how vaccine passports would work could harm confidence in the government’s approach – at a critical moment in the vaccine rollout and lockdown exit roadmap. This report says the government must address concerns over how, where and when COVID-19 passports would be used – rather than viewing the scheme as a 'moonshot' or easy shortcut back to normality.
The prime minister has not ruled out their use for pubs, bars, restaurants and non-essential shops, but he has also refused to address questions on the difficulties and risks involved with a scheme. The report warns that there is little evidence that a widespread COVID-19 passport scheme could be implemented safely in pubs and other venues, and a poorly implemented scheme could cause COVID-19 outbreaks and reduce vaccine confidence.
Piloting covid passports and developing some capability is a sensible insurance policy given the uncertainties ahead, including the risk of further variants emerging. But the government must be realistic about difficulties and the risks – and start persuading parliament and the public of its approach.
The report says that to address mounting concerns the government must explain:
- Why COVID-19 passports are worth introducing and where they are feasible
- How the certification system would work and how businesses would be expected to enforce measures
- How the government would address concerns about exclusion