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Written Statements

Volume 693: debated on Thursday 29 April 2021

Written Statement

Thursday 29 April 2021

Cabinet Office

Covid-19 Update

As part of “The covid-19 response - Spring 2021” publication, the Government committed to exploring whether and how covid-status certification might be used to reopen our economy, reduce restrictions on social contact and improve safety.

The subsequent “Roadmap Reviews: Update” publication of 5 April set out that the Government believe that covid- status certification could have an important role to play, both domestically and internationally, as a temporary measure.

The Government recognise the significant public and parliamentary interest in the question of covid-status certification. That is why the Government are conducting an extensive review seeking a wide range of input and insight. The review has conducted in-depth discussions with clinical, ethical, equalities and privacy specialists, faith and disability groups, and businesses and business representative organisations. I have personally led six roundtables so far, with representatives from businesses and business groups, including with the hospitality, entertainment, and live music and entertainment sectors, as well as parliamentarians, policy specialists, and clinicians. I am planning further roundtables, including one with sports organisations.

The review has also involved bilateral engagement with countries that have successfully implemented a domestic covid-status certification system, including Denmark and Israel. Last week, I visited Israel to see the operation of their “green pass” system at first hand. As well as meeting with the Health Minister and the senior officials responsible for the design and development of the green pass, I held discussions with a range of venue operators, including stadium, nightclub and concert organisers, to understand more about the experience of businesses in operating this system.

The Government issued a public call for evidence on 15 March 2021, which generated 52,450 responses. These replies represented a wide range of viewpoints in both support and in opposition of certification, from a broad range of respondents, including members of the public, sports organisations, large and small businesses representing a range of industries, civil society and voluntary groups, privacy, equalities and ethics specialists, and clinicians.

The Government can trial covid-status certification in certain settings, including large events, as part of the events research programme, alongside trials of a range of other safety measures. The Government will continue to work closely with sectors on its approach. The Government have set out that we believe that there are some settings, such as essential public services, public transport and essential shops, where covid-status certification should never be required, in order to ensure access for all. The Government will continue to explore the equity and ethical concerns about any form of covid- status certification.

The Prime Minister has made clear that covid-status certification will not be required in any settings at step 2 and 3 of the road map. The Government have committed to setting out the conclusions of the review ahead of step 4.