Covid: Minister rules out vaccine passports in UK

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The government has ruled out plans to issue so-called "vaccine passports" to enable people who have had the jab against coronavirus to travel abroad.

The Greek prime minister has said he would welcome British holidaymakers if they could prove they have been vaccinated.

Vaccine minister Nadhim Zahawi told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show that people could get evidence from their GP.

Labour says vaccine passports may be necessary.

The possibility of giving people "vaccine passports" to allow a return to international travel is being debated in the UK and elsewhere.

Former UK prime minister Tony Blair and Greek leader Kyriakos Mitsotakis are among those calling for their introduction.

In the UK, more than 11m people have been vaccinated against coronavirus so far.

Mr Zahawi had previously said that the government was "looking at the technology" to create vaccine passports, leading to accusations from critics that civil liberties would be infringed.

But speaking on the Marr show, Mr Zahawi insisted that was not the plan.

He said there were several reasons why vaccine passports would not be introduced, not least because the vaccine was not mandatory in the UK.

"That's not how we do things. We do them by consent," he said.

Mr Zahawi said vaccine passports would be "discriminatory" and it wasn't clear what impact they would have on transmission of the virus.

He said people could talk to their doctor if they needed written evidence to travel.

"Of course you have the evidence that you have been vaccinated held by your GP and if other countries require you to show proof of that evidence then that is up to those countries," he said.

The shadow business secretary, Ed Miliband, said vaccine passports "may be necessary" but he was more concerned with getting a comprehensive quarantine programme in place for arrivals in to the UK.

Mr Miliband added: "We should be open to this but there are complications to do this vaccine passport. Is it just for international travel? Is it for as you go about your business in your society?"

He said "We are five or six weeks on from the South African variant being discovered.

"We still don't have a quarantine system in place. We still don't have a plan for a comprehensive quarantine system, so let's proceed a step at a time, and of course, look at the vaccine passport - but let's get the quarantine right and let's get the rollout right too."