People enjoy a fine spring day in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, Sunday April 4, 2021. During current coronavirus restrictions people are allowed to meet up and exercise in the open air. (Jacob King/PA via AP)

People enjoy a fine spring day in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, Sunday April 4, 2021. During current coronavirus restrictions people are allowed to meet up and exercise in the open air. (Jacob King/PA via AP)

UK eyes testing out COVID-19 passports at mass gatherings

People attending a range of events will need to be tested both before and after

Britain is planning to test a series of measures including “coronavirus status certifications” over the coming weeks to see if they can allow people to safely return to mass gatherings at sports arenas, nightclubs and concerts.

People attending a range of events, including conferences and soccer’s FA Cup, will need to be tested both before and after. The trials will also gather evidence on how ventilation and different approaches to social distancing could enable large events to go ahead.

Officials are also developing plans to trial COVID-19 passports that are expected to show if a person has received a vaccine, has recently tested negative for the virus, or has some immunity due to having tested positive in the previous six months.

The issue of vaccine passports has been a hotly debated topic around the world, including in the United States and Israel. The question is how much governments, employers, venues and other places have a right to know about a person’s virus status. Many disagree over what the right balance is between a person’s right to medical privacy and the collective right of people in groups not to be infected with a dangerous disease by others.

Some critics also say such vaccine passports will enable discrimination against poor people and impoverished nations that do not have ready access to vaccines.

Authorities in Britain have said the passes could involve the use of an app or paper certificates for those who don’t have access to the digital option.

But U.K. Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston stressed to reporters that “the earliest pilots almost certainly won’t involve any elements of certification” but will involve testing before and after the events. Prime Minister Boris Johnson is expected to set out more details about the coronavirus passports on Monday.

“We are doing everything we can to enable the reopening of our country so people can return to the events, travel and other things they love as safely as possible, and these reviews will play an important role in allowing this to happen,” Johnson said.

Dozens of British lawmakers, including some from Johnson’s own Conservative Party, have opposed the plans.

Cabinet minister Michael Gove, who has led the task force responsible for drawing up the plans, acknowledged that vaccine passports raised “a host of practical and ethical questions” which needed to be resolved before any wider rollout.

Officials said the trial events include the FA Cup semi-final at London’s Wembley Stadium later this month with a crowd of 4,000 in a stadium that seats 90,000, and the event’s final on May 15, with a crowd of 21,000. Other events include the World Snooker Championship in Sheffield, central England and a comedy club gathering.

The news about the trials came as businesses including pubs, restaurants, nonessential shops and hairdressers prepared to welcome back customers as restrictions ease in England. Officials say about 47% of the country’s population has had a first dose of the coronavirus vaccine, and more than 5 million people in the U.K. have received their second dose.

Johnson’s government is also expected to set out its approach to easing restrictions on international travel next week. Media reports say when Britain’s current ban on foreign holidays is lifted, a risk-based traffic light system with ratings for countries around the world will be introduced and travellers will be required to quarantine accordingly.

More details are to be unveiled when a government task force on global travel reports on April 12. The government has said that international leisure travel cannot take place until mid-May at the earliest.

Last week the U.K. added four more nations to its red list of countries from which travel is banned except for U.K. citizens and those with residency rights. By April 9, the U.K. red list will be up to 39 countries. It aims to prevent more virus variants — especially ones first detected in Brazil and South Africa — from getting into the U.K.

Despite Britain’s success on the vaccination front, it still has the highest reported COVID-19 death toll in Europe at around 127,000 deaths.

___

Sylvia Hui, The Associated Press

CoronavirusUnited Kingdom

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Abbotsford’s Ying Chun Chen recently won a $1-million prize with Lotto 6/49. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Ying Chun Chen recently won the $1-million prize in a Lotto 6/49 draw. (Submitted)
Abbotsford’s Ying Chun Chen wins Lotto 6/49 $1-million prize

Ticket was purchased at Abbotsford’s FreshCo for the March 6, 2021 draw

Coquihalla elementary Grade 1 teacher Jenny Mossey hands out saplings to students at Rotary Park for them to plant themselves, on April 13, 2021. (Jessica Peters/ Hope Standard)
Coquihalla students pitch in with Rotary Park re-planting efforts

Popular Hope park trail improved after trees with root rot removed

Kao Macaulay has been charged in relation to a home break-in on March 30 in Abbotsford in which five kittens were stolen. (Facebook photo)
Former Chilliwack man charged with theft of 5 newborn kittens in Abbotsford

Prolific offender Kao Macaulay, 23, accused of breaking into home on March 30

About 80 demonstrators walked through Hope with signs in support of saving the Station House on March 23, 2021. (Photo/Christian Ward)
Public hearing now planned for Hope’s Station House decision

Council has now taken steps to remove heritage status from historic building

The City of Chilliwack website now has a panel full of customization options for people with disabilities, including an ADHD Friendly Profile. (chilliwack.com)
VIDEO: City of Chilliwack website offers new options for people with disabilities

The website now has a panel allowing users to adjust just about everything to suit individual needs

Restaurant patrons enjoy the weather on a patio in Vancouver, B.C., Monday, April 5, 2021. The province has restricted indoor dining at all restaurants in B.C. due to a spike in COVID-19 numbers. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C.’s COVID-19 indoor dining, drinking ban extending into May

Restaurant association says patio rules to be clarified

In a 2019 photograph, Yin Yin Din held a picture of her brother Kyaw Naing Din, 54, and her late father Hla Din who passed away in 2014, during a trip to Victoria. (The News files)
Family of B.C. man killed by cop appeals to Attorney General for help

The Din family want B.C. Attorney General David Eby to forward their case to Crown

B.C. Premier John Horgan speaks at the B.C. legislature. (B.C. government)
Tougher COVID-19 restrictions in B.C., including travel, still ‘on the table’: Horgan

John Horgan says travel restrictions will be discussed Wednesday by the provincial cabinet

Protesters occupied a road leading to Fairy Creek Watershed near Port Renfrew. (Submitted photo)
B.C. First Nation says logging activist interference not welcome at Fairy Creek

Vancouver Island’s Pacheedaht concerned about increasing polarization over forestry activities

Flow Academy is not accepting membership applications from anybody who has received a dose of the vaccine, according to a password-protected membership application form. (Submitted image)
B.C. martial arts gym refusing patrons who have been vaccinated, wear masks

Interior Health has already issued a ticket to Flow Academy for non-compliance with public health orders

Maple Ridge's Doug Ubell caught some photographs recently that he was anxious to share, one taken while on the Trans-Canada Trail looking southwest towards the Pitt River Bridge, and another from on Golden Ears Bridge. (Special to The News)
Traffic on Golden Ears Bridge returning to pre-pandemic levels

Commuters from Greater Vancouver still driving more, taking transit less

Sheila Malcolmson, B.C.’s minister of mental health and addictions (Screen shot)
Minister of mental health tells Surrey audience COVID-19 ‘has made everything worse’

More than 23,000 people in B.C. are receiving medication to treat opioid addiction

Facebook screenshot of the sea lion on Holberg Road. (Greg Clarke Facebook video)
VIDEO: Sea lion randomly spotted on remote B.C. logging road

Greg Clarke was driving home on the Holberg Road April 12, when he saw a large sea lion.

Defence counsel for the accused entered two not guilty pleas by phone to Grand Forks Provincial Court Tuesday, Jan. 12. File photo
B.C. seafood company owner fined $25K for eating receipt, obstructing DFO inspection

Richmond company Tenshi Seafood is facing $75,000 in fines as decided March 4 by a provincial court judge

Most Read