Covid passports for mass events could save 10,000 lives, says Tony Blair

Former PM’s think tank wants government to think again on Covid status certification

Adam Forrest
Tuesday 06 July 2021 01:44 BST
Boris Johnson confirms 19 July end to mandatory face masks and social distancing

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Former prime minister Tony Blair has urged the government to make “Covid passports” a mandatory requirement for entry into nightclubs, music festivals, sports matches and other big events.

The government has gone cold on the use of Covid status certification for mass events this summer – planning to lift all remaining curbs from 19 July.

On Monday Boris Johnson said he intends to allow all businesses, including nightclubs, to reopen as well as scrapping limits on cultural and sporting events in two weeks’ time.

However, a new report by the Tony Blair Institute (TBI) said mandating for the use of Covid passes at nightclubs and large-scale events could cut the number of infections in England by a third.

The think tank also claimed the move could reduce hospitalisations and cut the number of Covid deaths in England by around 10,000.

Citizens across the UK can currently request an NHS Covid Pass two weeks after receiving their second dose – and ministers are still considering how certification of immunity might be used to help open up international travel again.

Mr Johnson announced there will no mandatory Covid passports to control entry into venues such as pubs and restaurants – though businesses will be allowed to impose schemes of their own.

Ian Mulheirn, UK policy director at TBI, said: “With the NHS Covid Pass now up and running we have the technology to individualise restrictions at moments when the virus is spreading fast.”

He added: “This could save thousands of lives, and even boost the economy by allowing customers to return to mass events with confidence. But with infections surging and just two weeks until restrictions are lifted, the clock is ticking.”

The mandatory use of the NHS Covid Pass for domestic events would significantly slow the spread of the virus, according to the report’s authors – whose modelling is based on the work of Imperial College London scientists.

The report proposes that the mandatory use of Covid passports at nightclubs and large-scale events would be temporary – required only at times when case numbers are high.

Using a Covid passport for domestic events would also “buy time” for the vaccination of adolescents, which would further reduce the scale of the exit wave and save more lives, the think tank argued.

Earlier this year ministers had been considering requiring proof of vaccination or negative testing before allowing spectators to attend events like music festivals. But the idea was dropped as unworkable – deemed too difficult for venues to enforce.

Mr Blair’s latest intervention comes as the former top No 10 adviser Dominic Cummings said he would have done a much better job of leading the UK through the pandemic than Mr Johnson.

“Obviously [Mr Blair] would have done a much better job – he would at least read papers, chair meetings, understand how government machine works, not trolley around all day,” he told readers of his blog.

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