Around the world, it seems the race to produce a vaccine passport is well and truly on. From the IATA testing their Travel Pass application, to the EU planning to discuss their Digital Green Certificate in the European Parliament, interested parties the world over are frantically working on different forms of the vaccine passport in order to restart travel as soon as possible.
The UK is no different, and it was announced yesterday that their version of the vaccine passport will be accessed through their NHS app. Here’s what we know about it so far, and what was said about where Brits will be able to travel.
NHS App – What Is It?
Originally launched in 2018, the NHS app is the application of the UK’s National Health Service, the publicly funded healthcare system that the UK has. It is extremely popular in the UK, as it allows British citizens to perform a number of tasks, such as:
- check symptoms
- book and manage doctor appointments
- order repeat prescriptions
- view their medical record securely
The NHS also released a Covid-19 app, which came with a number of Covid-19 related features. These features included contact tracing, where the app would use Bluetooth technology to track time and distance between devices, as well as users being able to check the restrictions in their postcodes. It has been downloaded more than 21 million times throughout the course of the pandemic.
NHS App To Include Vaccine Passport – What Travelers Should Know
The British government confirmed yesterday that travelers will be asked to prove their vaccination and testing status through the NHS smartphone app. The news comes as other countries have begun revealing their intentions to use vaccine passports in order to facilitate travel this summer, such as Spain.
Speaking to the UK’s Sky News channel, transport secretary Grant Schapps said:
“It will be the NHS app that is used for people when they book appointments with the NHS and so on, to be able to show you’ve had a vaccine or that you’ve had testing.”
Schapps also clarified that it would be the general NHS app, rather than the Covid-19 specific one, that would house the travel passport feature. The transport minister then went on to announce he was working with partners across the world to ensure the system would be recognized internationally. No details were revealed as to when the travel passport feature of the NHS app will go live.
Vaccine passports are one of a number of potential options that have been heralded as a safe way to restart tourism this year, though they have also been criticized by some. Florida’s governor Ron DeSantis recently issued an executive order banning the use of vaccine passports in the state, claiming that they would create two classes of citizens.
Where Will They Be Used?
Schapps was also pressed into revealing where British travelers would be able to travel this summer, as the country edges closer to May 17th – the date when Brits will be allowed to travel once more – but he refused to commit to any destinations.
Speaking about the matter, he said:
“We do need to make sure that we do this very, very carefully … But, in the next couple of weeks, I’ll come back on and I’ll be able to tell you about which countries will have made it into the traffic light system – and that green list in particular.”
Traveling to a green list country means travelers will not need to quarantine upon return, whilst countries on the red list will see travelers needing to stay in managed hotel quarantine. At present, there are 40 countries on the UK’s red list.
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Disclaimer: Current travel rules and restrictions can change without notice. The decision to travel is ultimately your responsibility. Contact your consulate and/or local authorities to confirm your nationality’s entry and/or any changes to travel requirements before traveling. Travel Off Path does not endorse traveling against government advisories