Boost for holidays as new vaccine passport app for international travel launches in next two weeks
( Sun )
THE NEW Covid vaccine app is being trialled in the next two weeks on routes between London and Singapore, with hopes to launch more widely soon after.
Created by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the app, which will store evidence of a negative coronavirus test as well as proof of vaccinations, has raised hopes of summer holidays resuming.
Nick Careen, the industry trade body's senior vice president for airport passenger cargo and security, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that "quite a few" governments have shown an interest in the app.
Asked whether UK passengers would be able to use paper records as proof of vaccination or would need to upload digital evidence, Mr Careen said: "The chances are it will be a combination of the two.
"Speaking specifically for the UK, there have been discussions and there have been some announcements in terms of digitising, and there is a digital record through the NHS of your vaccination regardless of how it is being logged, so the ability to be able to communicate that would not be overly burdensome.
"But, ultimately, yes, we would expect to have to have the ability to be able to upload existing documents but also those that are digital as well."
In terms of data protection, Mr Careen said the information on the app would not be kept on a central database and that the test and vaccine records would only "exist on your phone".
Vinoop Goel, IATA’s regional director of airports, previously said: "We are currently working with a number of airlines worldwide and learning from these pilots. And the plan is to go live in March.
"So basically we expect to have a fully functional working system over the next few weeks."
Boris Johnson has said there "may well be a role" for vaccine passports for both domestic and overseas reasons, but is yet to confirm how they will be introduced for British travellers.
Holidays abroad have not been given the go-ahead yet with the UK government's Global Taskforce to announce an update on April 12.
It is hoped that they will go ahead from May 17 at the earliest, when UK group holidays go ahead, although is more likely to be from June 21.
While non-vaccinated travellers won't be banned from entering the country, they will instead face travel restrictions such as tests and quarantines.
Spain's tourism minister Maria Reyes Maroto has described vaccine passports as a “priority," alongside travel corridors adding: "The travel corridors will incorporate Covid-status certificates as an element of safe mobility.
"Tourism is a priority sector and we have worked not only on protective elements, but also on equipping ourselves with the tools to restore safe mobility.”
Majorca and Ibiza are pushing to be the first to introduce the passes - Juan Miguel Costa, Ibiza’s Director of Tourism, told island daily Periodico de Ibiza: “Vaccine passports can be part of a solution so that everyone can justify with an application on their mobiles that they have been jabbed."
The Greek prime minister echoed these sentiments earlier this month saying: "A vaccine certificate would allow you to enter Greece without being forced to provide a negative test and without any quarantine restrictions and we do intend to go down that path.
“For those who have not been vaccinated the most likely scenario is that we will request some sort of negative test, we want to make it as easy as possible for them to travel to Greece.“
Spain is even looking at introducing UK travel corridors again this summer for Brits if the vaccine passport scheme doesn't go ahead.
Secretary of State for Tourism, Fernando Valdés said if the immunisation certificate does not succeed, Spain is willing to consider bilateral agreements and corridors "with third countries", according to the Spanish press.
Bookings to Spanish hotspots are already soaring following Boris Johnson's announcement of his roadmap to freedom which could see life return to normal by June 21.