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Vaccine passports being introduced for Europe. UK government says it's not going down this route. Next paragraph then says UK government money given to 2 uk tech companies and that Microsoft is to develop digital access to vaccine records.


The times today.





friday january 15 2021



EU leaders draw up coronavirus vaccine passports to restart foreign travel

Countries including  Denmark and Greece have  announced plans to issue certificates that could allow people to travel freely


Bruno Waterfield, Brussels | Francis Elliott

Friday January 15 2021, 12.01am, The Times

European Union leaders will discuss plans next week for coronavirus vaccination “passports” to allow people who have had the injections to avoid travel restrictions and go on holiday.

British vaccination certificates would not automatically be accepted by the EU, and Britons’ holiday plans could be delayed until European travel plans have been agreed.

Greece, Poland, Cyprus and Denmark have already announced plans to issue vaccination certificates that could allow people to travel freely, especially in time for this summer’s tourist season.

Next Thursday Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Greek prime minister, will urge other European leaders to agree on certificates “facilitating the freedom of movement of persons who have been vaccinated against Covid-19”.

In a letter to the European Commission he wrote: “People who have been vaccinated should be free to travel. It is urgent to adopt a common understanding on how a vaccination certificate should be structured so as to be accepted in all member states.”

To avoid falling foul of EU anti-discrimination rules, Mr Mitsotakis stressed that his plan was “not going to make vaccination compulsory or a prerequisite for travel” but said that it would entitle “persons who have been vaccinated [to] be free to travel”.

Poland is already planning a “vaccine passport” for all Poles who have had their second injections, in the form of a QR code or barcode that could be used for cross-border travel.

Yesterday Anna Golawska, the deputy health minister, said: “This will be the so-called passport, which will confirm that the person has been vaccinated and can use the rights to which vaccinated people are entitled.”

The Danish health ministry said that Copenhagen was also “working on a Covid-19 vaccine passport, which is expected to be ready by early 2021”.


The European Commission is working on vaccination certificates “including a unique identifier for each individual vaccination” but its plans have led to concerns about privacy.

At present British people are barred from all but essential travel into Europe. Recognition of British vaccination certificates, which have so far been ruled out by the government, would have to wait until the EU scheme was up and running. To avoid restrictions, Britain would have to satisfy the EU that its spread of the new variant virus was under control and that infections were falling. Any such certificate travel scheme would also have to be reciprocal, allowing vaccinated Europeans to come to Britain.

European guidelines say that travel restrictions for countries outside the EU should be lifted “only after the lifting of internal border controls and restrictions to free movement within the EU”.

Downing Street said it was not aware of trials of so-called vaccine passports in this country. The prime minister’s official spokesman said: “This is not something we’re looking at introducing and that remains our policy.”


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Two British companies have received government money from an innovation fund to develop technology that would allow individuals to prove whether they had been inoculated.

Yesterday Microsoft and Oracle said that they were joining a coalition to develop common standards to verify an individual’s vaccine status while protecting their privacy. The Vaccination Credential Initiative builds on work by the Commons Project Foundation. Paul Meyer, its chief executive, said: “The goal is to empower individuals with digital access to their vaccination records so they can . . . safely return to travel, work, school and life, while protecting their data privacy.”

Over-50s rushing to book their summer getaways
Holiday companies are reporting a threefold rise in bookings for this summer driven by a boom in demand from older travellers (Graeme Paton writes).

It was claimed that the availability of vaccines was giving people the confidence to book trips in the hope that they will ultimately be able to go ahead.

Tui, the UK’s biggest tour operator, and National Express, the coach operator, said that bookings were being driven by people in their fifties and ixties who would be likely to be inoculated in the coming months. The government has said that it expects to give 15 million people their first jab by mid-February.

National Express said that its package holiday division, which includes Lucketts Travel and Woods Tours, had seen bookings increase almost threefold for spring and summer. Ticket sales were up by 185 per cent compared with the same period in 2020.

Tui said that people over 50 accounted for half of all online bookings made so far this year, which is a far higher rate than previous years. It said that destinations such as Greece, Turkey and Spain’s Balearic islands were among the most popular choices for people in that age group.

The travel industry has collapsed over the past 12 months, with restrictions imposed to stop the spread of coronavirus leading to a huge drop in holiday and flight bookings. Large numbers of travel companies have gone bust and analysts suggest that it will take four years or more for the industry to return to previous levels.

The consumer group Which? urged passengers to “remain cautious” over the coming months, pointing out that spikes in the virus in other countries could lead to the late cancellation of holidays. It suggested that holidays should be purchased with flexible terms that allow customers to switch dates or get their money back.

Jit Desai, head of holidays and travel for National Express, said: “We’ve seen an increased appetite for travel . . . with an uplift in inquiries and bookings every time there’s been an announcement about new vaccine approvals and the roll-out programme. Some are telling us that they’ve already had their jab and can’t wait to go on holiday once guidance allows again.”

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