Boris Johnson admits there are “ethical and practical issues” with vaccine passports after confirming test events will be launched in the next few weeks during his roadmap out of lockdown.
The Prime Minister confirmed at a Downing Street briefing that Step Two of lifting the coronavirus national lockdown would go ahead as planned.
The Carabao Cup final, the second FA Cup semi-final and the FA Cup final will serve as Wembley pilot events for the government’s ‘Covid status certification’ scheme.
The World Snooker Championship at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield – running from April 17 to May 3 – is the first sporting event to be included in the trial and will have 1,000 spectators per day, while there will also be three mass participation runs at Hatfield House on April 24 and 25, with 3,000 runners and a further 3,000 spectators.
Johnson said: “I want to stress there are complicated ethical and practical issues as I think I said last time raised by the idea of Covid status certification using vaccination alone.
“Many people will be for one reason or another unable to get a vaccine, for medical reasons for instance, or perhaps because they’re pregnant.
“So you have to be very careful how you handle this and don’t start a system that is discriminatory.
“But obviously we are looking at it – we want to be going ahead in the next few weeks with some test events, some pilot events.
“Big events, getting 20,000 people into Wembley on May 15 (for the FA Cup final), that kind of thing.
“Getting people back into theatre, that will unquestionably involve testing to allow the audience really to participate in the numbers that people want.”
According to an eight-page Downing Street paper, those who have tested positive for Covid-19 within the past 180 days would qualify for access to a venue or event requiring Covid certification.
The document said: “The Government expects that Covid-status certification could be demonstrated by: an up-to-date vaccine status, a negative lateral flow or PCR test taken at a test site on the same day or the day before their admission to a venue, or by proof of natural immunity, such as through a previous positive PCR for a time limit of 180 days from the date of the positive test and following completion of the self-isolation period.”
With indoor leisure facilities in England, including gyms and swimming pools able to reopen from April 12, Sport England have compiled answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.
“They are intended to support you in your work in preparing to restart and to understand what the government guidance means for you,” said a statement on the Sport England website.
“Sport-specific guidance will also be updated ahead of Step 2, and we’ll continue to work with the government to add further information on the next steps in its road map as we get further clarity.”
Swim England chief executive Jane Nickerson said the reopening of indoor pools would be a “welcome relief” to millions of people.
Johnson’s commitment to the roadmap out of lockdown means indoor swimming pools, leisure centres and gyms will reopen again after being closed for more than three months – two weeks after outdoor pools were given the green light to open.
However, while clubs will also be able to resume training indoors, over 18s will not be permitted to join in until Step Three, which is currently scheduled for May 17.
Nickerson said: “It’s fantastic news that indoor pools will be allowed to open again from April 12.
“It’s a date that we have been looking forward to for some time and it will be a welcome relief to the millions of people that have been denied the opportunity to swim, dive, play water polo or enjoy artistic swimming to finally have that conformation.
“Our club members will be counting down the days and hours having desperately missed taking part in the aquatic sports they love, while recreational swimmers and those who rely on pools to remain physically active will be thrilled to get back in the water once again.
“The reopening of indoor pools is tinged with sadness as our over 18s won’t be able to train with their clubs until the next step of the road map out of lockdown in May.”
Johnson said he would be raising a glass to the easing of lockdown with outdoor hospitality reopening on April 12.
“On Monday 12, I will be going to the pub myself and cautiously but irreversibly raising a pint of beer to my lips,” he said. “We set out our road map and we’re sticking with it.
“And I want to stress that we see nothing in the present data that makes us think that we will have to deviate from that roadmap.
“But it is by being cautious, by monitoring the data at every stage and by following the rules – remembering hands, face, space, fresh air – that we hope together to make this roadmap to freedom irreversible.”