A much-touted and controversial Covid passport scheme is poised to be trialled at large-scale sporting events within weeks.
But a backlash to the plans has seen more than 70 MPs sign a letter opposing the introduction of the “discriminatory” scheme.
Pilot schemes to safely open up large events with tighter-packed crowds are due from mid-April.
Among the events lined up for the pilot are the World Snooker Championship and FA Cup final, with the FA Cup semi-final, League Cup final and Brit Awards also said to be on the list.
This week a Tory minister suggested these trials will be combined with plans to trial “Covid certification checks” – more details of which are expected to be announced on Monday.
Certification refers to showing you’ve had either a test, a vaccine or both – but Boris Johnson yesterday put the emphasis on testing rather than vaccines.
So the trials could mean anybody going to the events is asked for a Covid test to gain entry as well as a further test after attendance.
This is so that any spread of the disease can be monitored. Government scientists are closely involved in designing pilots for the scheme.
The events will run from April until May and in the early stages attendees will need a negative Covid test to gain entry, according to The Daily Telegraph.
For the later months, officials reportedly want to make use of an updated NHS app to show whether a person has been given the vaccine, tested negative or has antibodies.
But there has been a backlash to the plans.
More than 70 Tory, Labour and Lib Dem MPs have pledged to campaign against the “divisive and discriminatory use” of inoculation certificates to “deny individuals access to general services, businesses or jobs”.
They include 41 Tories – potentially jeopardising the Prime Minister’s 80-seat Commons majority.
A government source told the Telegraph there was still time for changes to the pilot plan to be made before announcements from Mr Johnson are made on Monday.
The study on sports matches – an Events Research Programme – will look at holding mass events with less social distancing than expected under the current roadmap.
The roadmap says Step 3, from May 17 at the earliest, will allow mass events but only at 50% capacity, 1,000 people indoors or 4,000 people outdoors, whichever is smallest. Stadiums like Wembley are allowed up to 10,000 people.
But this month the government will begin separate pilots of mass events to see if rules can be eased further.
These will include in the Crucible theatre for the snooker championship, which starts in mid-April, and at Wembley Stadium for the FA Cup final on May 15.
If that is successful ministers will stuff “as many people as we can” into Wembley again for a pencilled-in Euros final in July, Mr Dowden told The Sun.
Mr Dowden said earlier this week: “[Some]thing that we are considering is a Covid certification, and we will be testing whether we can use Covid certification to help facilitate the return of sports.”
It comes after Boris Johnson suggested that Brits will ‘definitely’ need vaccine passports of some kind to take foreign holidays.
It’s understood the Prime Minister will outline the first stages of a “traffic light” system for foreign travel on Monday.
But it is claimed there could be as few as 12 nations on the “green” list from May 17, the earliest date foreign holidays can resume.
He is also expected to spell out a direction for domestic “certification” which could, eventually, lead to Brits being asked to show their vaccine or testing status to enter a venue like a pub.