Explained: What do Covid passports mean for you?
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
With the arrival of Omicron, the government has decided to implement Plan B, which involves widespread working from home, mask wearing and, crucially, introduces Covid passports.
The health secretary Sajid Javid has said this plan is an attempt to "buy back time" and "build our collective defences" against Omicron.
Notably, this scheme does not require people to be vaccinated to participate in it, as you can get a passport through testing as well as vaccination.
Everything you need to know about Covid passports is explained below.
When will you need a covid passport?
The introduction of Covid passports was announced by the Prime Minister on December 8, and will come into effect from Wednesday, December 15.
Mr Johnson justified this, saying “As we set out in Plan B, we will give businesses a week’s notice, so this will come into force in a week’s time, helping to keep these events and venues open at full capacity while giving everyone who attends them confidence that those around them have done the responsible thing to minimise risk to others."
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What do you need a Covid passport for?
Plan B means people will need Covid passports to enter a variety of events and venues, which the Prime Minister set out on Thursday, December 8.
He said: "We will make the NHS Covid pass mandatory for entry into nightclubs and venues where large crowds gather, including unseated indoor venues with more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people and any venue with more than 10,000 people."
How do you get a Covid passport?
To get the pass you must fulfil any one of three conditions, which indicate that you either have immunity or do not have the virus.
Firstly, if it has been two weeks since your second vaccination, or first Jansen dose, you can get a pass.
Secondly, if you've reported a negative PCR or lateral flow test on the NHS website within the last 48 hours, you can get a pass.
Finally, if you've had a positive PCR test within the last 6 months and finished self isolating, you can get a pass.
One can also use the web based NHS Covid Pass service.
How have business leaders reacted?
Business leaders and some Conservative backbenchers have opposed the measures, with one Tory MP heard shouting "resign" when health secretary Sajid Javid confirmed the introduction of Covid passports for events.
Michael Kill, chief executive of the Night Time Industries Association, also criticised the decision, saying: “Vaccine Passports have a damaging impact on Night Time Economy businesses, as we have seen in other parts of the UK where they have been implemented like Scotland – where trade is down 30% – and Wales, where it down 26%.
“The UK Government have twice ruled out Vaccine Passports before twice changing their mind.
"The mixed public health messages this week that have been coming out of the Government have arrived at the worst possible time – the pre-Christmas period is absolutely crucial for our sector.
"And now it is announced damaging Vaccine Passports are to be implemented.
“Far from ‘saving’ Christmas, the Prime Minister has given our sector the horrible present of more pain for businesses desperately trying to recoup losses from earlier in the pandemic.
"The fact that businesses have only been given one week to make such an enormous change to their operating model is an additional insult.”