How could a 'vaccine passport' scheme work in the Channel Islands?

Credit: PA Images

As case numbers in the Channel Islands fall and the vaccination programmes gather pace, islanders will be looking ahead to a return to some form of 'normality'.

While restrictions gradually ease within the islands, a question marks hang over how international travel will look in the future - with the idea of a vaccine passport being floated.

A scheme is already being discussed among ministers and scientific advisors in Jersey, while Guernsey's Civil Contingencies Authority also says it is open to the idea - but how would it work?

What is a 'vaccine passport?'

A vaccine passport - also known as an immunisation certificate -would involve everyone who has been fully vaccinated against Covid-19 being given a form of physical or digital documentation to prove they have received their jabs.

The hope is that such a scheme would allow people more freedoms and help the economy get back up and running in time for the summer months.

An internationally agreed scheme could potentially pave the way for changes to border restrictions in the Channel Islands, with either a removal or reduction in quarantine periods for people arriving into the islands if they have been fully vaccinated.

How would it work?

Work is already underway by tech companies to develop the infrastructure for digital 'vaccine passports'.

Microsoft has already started working on an encrypted vaccine certificate which can be stored in a person’s phone ‘wallet’, and be authenticated as a QR code.

The World Economic Forum and the Common Projects Foundation are currently testing the ‘CommonPass’, which can state if you have had a negative test in the last 72 hours.

However, in Hungary, those who have been vaccinated receive a plastic card which allows them to stay out beyond national curfew times.

Where else is the idea being considered?

Credit: ITV Channel TV

The idea is being explored by the UK government - and the EU has already revealed plans to roll out the scheme across the Schengen zone.

Meanwhile Denmark and Sweden have already announced the launch of similar programmes.  Sweden is aiming to introduce a viral certificate system by June, allowing greater freedoms to those who have been immunised. 

Denmark’s proposed system would include a ‘digital vaccine passport’ that people who have been fully vaccinated could have on their phones, permitting them to travel. 

“It will be the extra passport that you will be able to have on your mobile phone that documents that you have been vaccinated,” Danish Finance Minister Morten Boedskov said.

What else might the passport allow me to do?

Jersey's government launched a contact tracing app in October 2020. Credit: ITV Channel TV

The system could permit a return for fans to sporting and live music events, as long as they can prove they have received a vaccine.

The idea could also be spread to other activities, such as going to restaurants, bars or the cinema, for example, with visitors being able to prove their vaccination with their vaccine passport.

As Test and Trace apps such as Jersey Covid Alert have showed, it is possible to operate a similar system in hospitality establishments.