Boris Johnson will soon announce the path to easing lockdown, with schools and non-essential shops thought to be closer to reopening.
The UK beat its own target of vaccinating 15,000,000 people before 15 February, with more than half a million also receiving their second dose.
Something that has been discussed often is the idea of a coronavirus vaccine passport, issued to people who have received their jabs.
So, what is a coronavirus vaccine passport, and what do we know about them?
Some are hoping that certificates proving their vaccinated status could allow them to engage in previously-limited activities, like browsing shops or gathering in groups.
The passports could also allow certain groups to go on holiday, as the vaccinations significantly reduce the chance of infection.
They could also allow people to enter restaurants or work in the retail sector.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said that while they won’t be necessary for browsing the high street, vaccine passports might be required for travel.
He said: ‘I think inevitably there will be great interest in ideas like can you show that you had a vaccination against Covid in the way that you sometimes have to show you have had a vaccination against yellow fever or other diseases in order to travel somewhere.’
Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi insisted that there is no plan to introduce the scheme in the UK at the moment, describing it as ‘discriminatory’.
Speaking to the BBC’s The Andrew Marr show on 14 February, Zahawi said the passports could not work as ‘vaccines are not mandated in the UK.’
Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, seems to agree – telling LBC Radio that they are not part of the post-lockdown roadmap.
However, Dominic Raab said that vaccine passports could be an option as part of the plan to lift restrictions, telling LBC that they haven’t been ruled out.
Speaking to the radio station, he said that ‘whether it’s at an international, domestic or local level, you’ve got to know that the document being presented is something that you can rely on and that it’s an accurate reflection of the status of the individual.
‘I’m not sure there’s a foolproof answer in the way that it’s sometimes presented but of course, we’ll look at all the options.’
At present, Covid vaccination passports are not required for travel – and it’s not clear that they will ever be used to allow people to move internationally.
Worldwide travel continues to be limited, with many borders still closed and airlines operating at a reduced capacity. A large number of countries are now requesting passengers produce negative PCR tests before arriving at airports.
Some travel companies have said they will insist certain passengers are vaccinated before allowing them to buy tickets, too.
Saga, which specialises in holidays for the over-50s, has said people will have to have had the second jab before they are allowed to journey abroad.
Passengers will have to ‘self-declare’ their vaccination status, and won’t need to provide a certificate as proof, according to their website.
No countries have vaccination passports yet, although it is understood that many European countries are considering introducing a version of them. These include:
* Iceland, Denmark and Sweden are rolling out a plan for digital certificates, that will allow citizens to ‘eat out, travel, and attend festivals’ according to Forbes.
* The EU is working with Greece to create a standardised certificate that would allow travel across the continent, known as the Yellow Card.
* Poland has introduced a QR code system, that quickly allows officials to check citizens’ vaccination status.
They’re certainly controversial. A gov.uk petition entitled ‘Do not rollout Covid-19 vaccine passports’ has around 130,000 signatures, citing concerns around ‘societal cohesion’.
Some experts think that they could improve prospects for job seekers – with a passport allowing a wider variety of workplaces to safely open.
However, others have warned that allowing certain groups more freedoms than others has the potential to be divisive – with unvaccinated groups essentially being penalised.
As other countries are at different stages with their vaccination rollout, too, experts have suggested it would be hard to introduce a system that would work for international travel.
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