FA Cup and comedy club to host England's vaccine passport trial


FILE PHOTO: Britain's Prime Minister Boris Johnson holds a news conference on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in London, Britain March 29, 2021. Hollie Adams/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) - England will launch a vaccine passport trial in a comedy club, a nightclub and FA Cup matches at Wembley in the coming weeks to determine how it can reopen the economy and host mass events safely.

The government said a COVID-status certification system was being developed that would show whether a person had had a vaccine, a recent negative test or natural immunity from a positive test taken in the last six months.

The trial, to be run at nine events including the FA Cup semi-final and final, will be used to assess whether large events can be held in closed settings without social distancing. The system is unlikely to be used for public transport, shops or pubs.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the country had made huge strides in recent months as it rolled out one of the fastest vaccination programmes in the world.

"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," he said in a statement.

Under the government's plan for reopening the economy, a limited number of people will be able to attend football matches from no earlier than May 17 while nightclubs will be allowed to reopen no earlier than June 21.

The Telegraph newspaper reported a coronavirus passport app might not be ready until September.

With more than 126,000 deaths, the United Kingdom has the fifth highest death toll in the world and it endured one of the deepest economic contractions on record. But the fast vaccine rollout has boosted hopes of a steady recovery this year.

Talk of a vaccine passport has however sparked mounting concern from lawmakers in Johnson's own party and civil rights groups who see the plan as an erosion of basic civil liberties.

The government will also give an update on Monday on plans to restart international travel.

In a bid to prevent variants from entering the country and undermining the vaccine programme, it will set out a traffic light system for countries based on their rate of inoculation, rate of infection and detection of coronavirus variants.

Under the current plans international travel will not be allowed until May 17 at the earliest.

(Reporting by Kate Holton; Editing by Raissa Kasolowsky)

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