Government ‘cannot guarantee’ US and EU travellers won’t use fake vaccine certificates

‘I think it is highly unlikely,’ says foreign secretary on fraud possibility

Adam Forrest
Thursday 29 July 2021 11:53
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Raab 'increasingly confident' more countries will be added to amber or green lists

Boris Johnson’s government “cannot guarantee” that US and EU travellers coming to the UK next week will not try to show fake vaccination certificates, a senior minister has said.

The government has decided to open England’s borders to allow US and EU travellers who are fully vaccinated against Covid to enter without the need to quarantine from Monday.

While Labour attacked the move as “reckless”, concerns have been raised that the paper Covid vaccine certificates widely issued in the US could easily be falsified.

Asked about the possibility, foreign secretary Dominic Raab told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “We can’t guarantee that some people might not do it. I think it is highly unlikely.”

Mr Raab said: “The point here is that, with both the European countries and the US, we are talking about high-trust countries with whom we have not just an intuitive level of high trust, we have active co-operation.”

The foreign secretary added: “so we know that we can straighten out any discrepancies we might come across pretty quickly.”

Mr Raab claimed there is a “double lock” of written certification and proof of US residency for American travellers, which he said could allow “further checks if there is any suspicion of fraud”.

The foreign secretary also confirmed that people in the US and EU who have received the Chinese Sinopharm or Russian Sputnik jabs would not be eligible for the quarantine exemption.

He added: “We feel this is a modest opening up of international travel but one that has the reassurances that we can take further steps forward as we build confidence in the system.”

The foreign secretary also revealed he had been contacted by his counterparts in other countries after Wednesday’s announcement to lift restrictions on travellers from the US and EU.

“Overnight I’ve had foreign ministers messaging me to say, ‘We’ve noticed the [US-EU] announcement, what can we do to do this on a reciprocal basis’,” he told Sky News.

Mr Raab said the government was keen to set up travel corridors with other “high-trust” countries.

“The key thing about the EU and EU, we’ve got high trust in the mechanisms for verifying double vaccination – those are the kinds of countries we’d want to pursue.”

Transport secretary Grant Shapps said on Wednesday that he hoped the US and other countries would drop its ban on UK travellers “in time”, having spoken to his American counterpart Pete Buttigieg.

Mr Shapps said: “We can’t change that on the other side but we do expect that in time they will release that executive order, which was actually signed by the previous president.”

Despite the diplomatic pressure to create a travel corridor, unnamed aviation industry sources told The Telegraph that the US may not its overseas travel ban until September.

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