Covid passports to be scrapped ‘this month’ as Omicron wave eases
Covid passports are reportedly set to be scrapped in England this month as the wave of Omicron cases has finally started to ease.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid is understood to have concluded that the certification policy is no longer needed now that there are “encouraging signs” coronavirus infections are starting to drop, The Times reports.
What’s been said?
Mr Javid told MPs that he shared their “instinctive discomfort” over the use of vaccine passports, suggesting the policy may be dropped following the next review of restrictions.
He acknowledged that hospitals across the country are still facing “significant pressure”, but said it is encouraging that there has not been an increase in the number of Covid-19 patients in intensive care, and the rate of hospitalisation appears to be slowing down.
He told the Commons this week: “Due to the lag between infections and hospitalisations, the NHS will remain under significant pressure over the next few weeks.
“It is encouraging, however, that during this wave we have not seen an increase in Covid-19 intensive care patients, and there are already early signs that the rate of hospitalisation is starting to slow.
“We know that Omicron is less severe. But no-one should be under any illusions - it is severe for anyone that ends up in hospital, and that's far more likely if you have not had the jab."
The Health Secretary argued the case for the use of Covid passports to enter nightclubs and large events in England last month, when the Omicron variant was detected in the UK.
However, he is now expected to argue that such a measure is no longer needed when Plan B restrictions are reviewed.
A Whitehall source told the paper: “There was always a very high threshold for the policy and it looks increasingly likely in a couple of weeks that threshold won’t be met.
“The way cases are going it will be hard to justify renewing.”
When will Plan B be reviewed?
The UK government is due to review Plan B measures in England on 26 January.
It is expected that the requirement to show Covid-19 certification - which includes proof of vaccination or a recent negative test - will not be renewed if the Department of Health argues it is no longer needed.
Work from home guidance could potentially be scrapped as well, as employers look to get staff back into offices.
As such, it is likely that the only coronavirus restriction that will continue following the review is the wearing of face masks in indoor venues.
Plan B measures are due to expire on 26 January, but if the data does not support this the date could be extended, or it may be decided that only certain measures need to remain in place longer.