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

The property on which a residential school (pictured) that was torn down years ago in Lower Post is to be the location of a cultural centre. (Indian Residential School History and Dialogue Centre photo)
Lower Post residential school building to be demolished, replaced with cultural centre

Project to be funded by federal and provincial governments, Daylu Dena Council

The Dease Lake Airport is receiving $11-million in upgrades funded by the province, Regional District of Kitimat-Stikine and mining companies. (British Columbia Aviation Council)
Major upgrades coming to Dease Lake Airport

Airport to receive $11-million from the province, regional district and mining companies

Dianna Plouffe, right, with Mayor Gladys Atrill in front of Town Hall following the announcement she will be the new CAO> (Facebook photo)
Director of corporate services named Smithers CAO

Dianna Plouffe replaces Alan Harris who is retiring at the end of April

Mabel Todd, 83, of the Nak’azdli First Nation, leads a group of family members and advocates of missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls as they walk along the so-called Highway of Tears in Witset. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)
Province, feds fund full cell service along ‘Highway of Tears’ following years of advocacy

A ‘critical milestone in helping prevent future tragedies’ after at least 10 Indigenous women murdered, missing along the route

Photo collage of loved ones lost to substance use and overdose. (Photo courtesy Moms Stop The Harm)
B.C. overdose deaths still rising 5 years after public health emergency declared

Moms Stop the Harm calls on B.C. to provide safe supply in response to deadly illicit drug use

A woman wears a protective face covering to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as she walks past the emergency entrance of Vancouver General Hospital in Vancouver, B.C., Friday, April 9, 2021. COVID-19 cases have been on a steady increase in the province of British Columbia over the past week. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Top doctor warns B.C.’s daily cases could reach 3,000 as COVID hospitalizations surge

There are more than 400 people in hospital, with 125 of them in ICU

Paper Excellence took over Catalyst Paper operations in B.C. in 2018. (Paper Excellence photo)
Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

The plane blasted through an airport fence and down a hill, before stopping before a cement barrier on Highway 5A, right in front of a school bus. Photo submitted.
Student pilot crashes plane onto Highway 5A almost hitting school bus

Aircraft hit pavement right in front of school bus

Eight-year-old Piper and her family were raising money to help Guinevere, the bearded dragon, get a gynecological surgery. Sadly, the reptile didn’t survive the procedure. (Jackee Sullivan/Special to Langley Advance Times)
Lizard fails to survive surgery, GoFundMe dollars help Langley family offset medical bills

Guinevere, a pet bearded dragon, underwent an ovariectomy on Tuesday

A driver stopped by Saanich police following a road rage incident on April 15 was found to be impaired, in violation of a license restriction and in a damaged vehicle. They received a 90-day driving prohibition and a 30-day vehicle impound. (Saanich Police Traffic Safety Unit/Twitter)
Road rager fails breathalyzer on busy B.C. highway in vehicle he shouldn’t be driving

Saanich police say man was operating vehicle without required ignition lock

B.C. Premier John Horgan wears a protective face mask to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. Premier John Horgan booked to get AstraZeneca shot Friday

‘Let’s show all British Columbians that the best vaccine is the one that’s available to you now,’ he said

Doses of the Moderna COVID‑19 vaccine in a freezer trailer, to be transported to Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Pfizer to increase vaccine deliveries in Canada as Moderna supply slashed

Moderna plans to ship 650,000 doses of its vaccine to Canada by the end of the month, instead of the expected 1.2 million

Most Read