Covid: Vaccine passports being considered for return of fans to large events, minister confirms

Oliver Dowden has confirmed the government is considering how vaccine certificates can be used to facilitate the return of fans to large events. Credit: PA

Coronavirus "vaccine certification" could facilitate the return of fans to large events, such as the FA Cup Final in Wembley, the culture secretary has confirmed.

Following Boris Johnson's roadmap out of lockdown, fans will be allowed to return to large events such as sports events and theatre shows, with limited capacity from May 17.

The FA Cup, which takes place days earlier on May 15, is among a number of big events being used as pilots to test whether a safe return of fans is possible.

From May 17, indoor events will be allowed up to 1,000 spectators or 50% of capacity, whichever is lowest and outdoor events will be allowed up to 4,000 or 50% of capacity, whichever is lowest.

Meanwhile, outdoor seated events, such as football matches, will be allowed 10,000 fans or 25% of capacity, whichever is lowest.

Then, if all goes according to plan, the government hopes to lift all social restrictions from June 21, paving the way for packed out matches in the run up to the Euros final, which takes place in Wembley on July 11.

Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, told ITV News: "Vaccine certification is one of the things that we're looking at - the logistics of delivering it, it's one of a range of measures to try and ensure that we keep Covid under control.

Oliver Dowden on vaccine certificates:

"In my area, that may help facilitate people returning to theatres and football stadiums, and all the things that we love and we're yearning to do."

He added: "This summer we expect the Euros to take place - the Euros will take place - we're hosting both the semi finals and the finals of the Euros."

The Cabinet minister also looked ahead to the reopening of hospitality, saying he is "desperate to get back to the pub on April 12", when venues open for outdoor service.

He said England is "on course" to meet all the dates in the roadmap, which will see hospitality venues allowed indoor service with restrictions from May 17.

Oliver Dowden on the return of large events, such as the Euros in the summer:

Vaccine certificates, or passports, are a way someone could prove they've been vaccinated for coronavirus, reducing their risk of spreading it.

The Global Travel Taskforce, chaired by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps, and the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster, Michael Gove, are looking at how vaccine passports can facilitate a return to international travel.

The government has previously said there are ethical issues with using vaccine passports within the UK to allow people to attend events, because there are various reasons, including religious, why someone may not want to be vaccinated.

Speaking in February, Prime Minister Johnson said: "There are clearly some quite complex issues, some issues, some ethical issues, issues about discrimination and so on.

"To what extend can government either compel or indeed forbid use of such certification. I think all that needs to be gone into and so we're going to have a review of the whole issue."

He added: "There may well be a role for certification, we just need to get it right."

On international travel a number of countries have already said they would require proof of vaccination for tourists to enter, and the government has said it will "help facilitate" that.

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