Could Covid app be a digital travel pass?
Could Covid app be a digital travel pass? New hope for summer trips abroad as feature on your device would allow holidaymakers to prove they have tested negative or been vaccinated
- Boris Johnson has asked taskforce to look into how holidays can safely resume
- International Air Transport Association plans to go live with a digital Travel Pass
- Organisation is in talks with government about providing UK tourist passes
- Prime Minister’s roadmap on Monday suggested foreign travel could return from May 17 at the earliest
Holidaymakers could be offered a phone app ‘within weeks’ that would enable them to prove they have tested negative for Covid or been vaccinated.
The International Air Transport Association, which is in talks with the UK Government, yesterday revealed plans to go live with its digital Travel Pass next month.
The development is a boost to the millions of Britons hoping for a foreign holiday this summer after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a roadmap for reopening foreign travel on Monday.
Mr Johnson has asked a new taskforce to look into how holidays can safely be resumed, with ‘vaccine passports’ seen as one potential long-term measure. Popular holiday destinations such as Greece, Cyprus, Spain and the Canary Islands have already expressed interest in the idea.
IATA’s app will be capable of verifying if a passenger has had the Covid-19 tests or vaccines required to enter a country.
Holidaymakers could be offered a phone app ‘within weeks’ that would enable them to prove they have tested negative for Covid or been vaccinated (example of a travel passport phone app)
The development is a boost to the millions of Britons hoping for a foreign holiday this summer after Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a roadmap for reopening foreign travel on Monday (stock photo)
It would also prove they were administered by an approved authority and store the information on individual phones rather than in a centralised database to better protect privacy.
Vinoop Goel, IATA’s regional director of airports and external relations, said: ‘The key issue is one of confidence. Passengers need to be confident that the testing they’ve taken is accurate and will allow them to enter the country.
‘And then governments need to have the confidence that the tests passengers claim to have is one which is accurate and meets their own conditions.’
He added: ‘The plan is to go live in March, so basically we expect to have a fully functional working system over the next few weeks.’
IATA stressed the app would not be live for use next month as a ‘vaccine passport’, partly because Britain does not currently issue proof of vaccination in digital format.
But it is understood this is one of the issues being worked through by the new Department for Transport-led travel taskforce – raising the prospect of British holidaymakers using such an app this summer.
Mr Johnson has asked a new taskforce to look into how holidays can safely be resumed, with ‘vaccine passports’ seen as one potential long-term measure. Popular holiday destinations such as Greece, Cyprus, Spain and the Canary Islands have already expressed interest in the idea (stock photo of Taverna Nikos, in Mykonos, Greece)
The UK’s vaccine credentials, which are currently given in paper format, would need to be ‘digitalised’, IATA said.
One way this could be done is if health authorities began issuing QR codes which could be scanned and uploaded into apps as proof that both doses of the vaccine had been given, along with information about where it was given, which jab was received and who it was administered by.
The industry sees digital passes as an essential part of reopening air travel, as many countries still have strict restrictions or quarantines, which could be lifted for those who can prove they have been inoculated.
Singapore Airlines was the first airline to start trials of the IATA Travel Pass in December. Etihad, Emirates, Qatar Airways and Air New Zealand are among the others conducting trials.
Other airlines are also trialling different apps which could end up being used for ‘vaccine passports’.
British Airways is trialling one called VeriFLY and expanded the trial last week to cover all inbound flights to the UK, in addition to all outbound flights to the US. It is currently only used to verify a negative Covid test result.
Meanwhile, travel firms reported a booking bonanza yesterday after Mr Johnson said there was ‘every chance’ breaks abroad could go ahead this summer.
Tui, the UK’s largest tour operator, recorded a six-fold increase in bookings. Greece, Spain and Turkey were the most popular destinations, with bookings for those countries up 500 per cent. It was the firm’s busiest day for more than a month.
Rival package holiday giant Jet2.com said bookings were up 600 per cent, with Spain, Greece and Cyprus also among the most-booked destinations.
Steve Heapy, chief executive of Jet2.com, said: ‘We have seen enormous pent-up demand from British holidaymakers for some time, with people wanting nothing more than to get away to the sunshine and enjoy their well-deserved holidays. The Government’s announcement is the news they have been longing for.’
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