The Daily Telegraph

‘Covid passports’ could give tested people more freedom, says report backed by Hunt

- By Amy Jones POLITICAL CORRESPOND­ENT

DIGITAL “coronaviru­s status passports” could be used to scrap blanket quarantine measures and unlock vast swathes of the economy, a new report backed by Jeremy Hunt has urged.

Under the proposals people would be tested as often as every two weeks for Covid-19 and keep their results in a specialise­d app on their phone.

Passport owners would be able to scan an individual QR code to get into restaurant­s and sports venues, meaning businesses would be able to reduce social distancing. Those who test negative would also avoid the need for quarantini­ng when crossing borders.

The report, from the Tony Blair Institute, advocates the implementa­tion of “digital” passports as part of wider calls for mass testing.

In a foreword to the report, Mr Hunt writes: “We know there is a delicate balance to be struck between health and economic concerns. We also know that the two are inextricab­ly linked: an economy in freefall causes immense physical and mental harm and the uncertaint­y of lockdowns will lead to deep and lasting economic damage. Having the confidence to return to work and for consumers to interact with businesses is now a must, but it can only be achieved by learning to live alongside the virus. Short of a safe vaccine, mass testing is the only way to realise this.”

The paper, which is also backed by Tony Blair and William Hague, argues for “Covid-19 status passports” to help open up the economy further. The report’s author, Ryan Wain, said: “It’s almost a passport back to normality. It would allow restaurant­s to open closer to full capacity, it could help get crowds back in sports stadiums.

“It’s really important for the economy to eventually remove and reduce social distancing and I see the passport as a way of doing that. It would also allow people to travel more freely and enable mass quarantine to be scaled down.”

Mr Wain, a strategic adviser at the Tony Blair Institute, said that the suggestion was different to an “immunity passport”, which was previously touted as a potential route out of the pandemic. In May, Mr Hancock hinted that immunity certificat­es could be issued to those who had already recovered from coronaviru­s.

However, the paper’s author notes that “evidence is still in flux about how long immunity lasts”, with some studies suggesting it can last for as little as three months

‘It would also enable people to travel more freely and enable mass quarantine to be scaled down’

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