A Government official has confirmed that COVID passports are being prepared for international travel once the ban on foreign holidays is lifted.
The official from the Department for Transport told a meeting of travel industry representatives yesterday that it hoped the passports will be ready to roll out by 17 May.
If so, they could enable fully vaccinated holidaymakers to side-step testing requirements for travel to popular destinations. Countries such as Greece have already said they will allow test-free entry to those with internationally-recognised proof of vaccination.
The comment from the Government official was made during a phone call to the Tourism Industry Emergency Response Group (TIER), which includes representatives from several travel and tourism bodies.
But AITO Head of Commercial Bharat Gadhoke, who was on the phone call, warned that the comment, which has been widely reported in the national press today, was far from confirmation that COVID passports will be launched by 17 May.
“This phone call was simply an update from the DfT to the TIER group, and while the official did say the Government is working on something that will hopefully be ready for 17 May, they only said it could be ready, not that it would be,” he told Travel Gossip News.
However, it is the first official confirmation that the Government is intending to launch a COVID passport or certification for international travel.
Mr Gadhoke said the passport, if and when it is launched, could include a passenger’s COVID vaccination status plus details of any recent COVID tests to allow travel to countries who require proof that arrivals are free of the virus.
“It is our sincere hope that we will have something that recognises not just COVID testing but also vaccinations,” he said “It’s a no-brainer that we need something for international travel, but the Government is also looking at something for inbound travel.”
“What I heard yesterday is that they are making good strides towards this, they are on their way, but they didn’t say it would definitely be ready for 17 May.”
The DfT said: “We are working on a solution to enable residents to prove their COVID-19 status, including vaccination status, to other countries on the outbound leg. We are working on this as a priority and intend to have the solution ready as soon as possible.”
TUI and easyJet are among operators that are still planning to restart operations on 17 May, the earliest date at which the Government will lift the ban on foreign holidays. Jet2 has pushed back its restart date to 24 June.