A cross-party group of MPs has called on the government to develop a digital ‘Covid Green Pass’ before reopening international travel further.
They have also recommended upgrades to e-gates at airports to avoid long queues when travel does restart in earnest – and they want cheaper PCR tests.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Coronavirus set out its proposals in a report called Covid Green Pass For International Travel, which draws on evidence from experts during a hearing last month about the use of ‘vaccine passports’ for mass events and international travel.
The report said: “While the UK and global population remain only partially vaccinated, and because vaccination does not negate the risk of transmission of Covid-19, the focus of the ‘Covid Green Pass’ should continue to be proof of a recent negative PCR test.
“Vaccines, and therefore a Covid Green Pass, are not a ‘silver bullet’.
“A Covid Green Pass should be considered in line with other strategies to reduce exposure risk and make spaces Covid secure.”
The report warned that paper-based solutions contribute to “lengthy queues and mixing in arrival halls” and are more susceptible to fraud than a digital Covid Green Pass.
“E-gate upgrades must be implemented before international travel is resumed in summer,” said the report.
“Without e-gates, queues will continue to be ‘unacceptable from a welfare, safety and security perspective’.”
The Covid Green Pass should be integrated with the NHS app, and combine test results and vaccination status, it added.
“Vaccination status alone should not be sufficient for international travel, and should be combined with a negative PCR test in order to provide the strongest possible protections against Covid variants being imported into the UK. This should remain in place until a high level of vaccination is attained globally,” recommended the report.
Furthermore, the government should consider measures to reduce the costs of tests such as a VAT exemption or a price cap, as has been done in other European countries, said the APPG.
It should also explore whether the NHS can build the capacity to carry out tests for international travel.