Late on 27 September 2021, the Department of Health and Social Care issued the Consultation Proposal for mandatory COVID certification in a Plan B scenario: call for evidence, asking for responses by 11 October, although it encourages stakeholders to submit views as quickly as possible in case there is need to introduce certification, as part of Plan B, at short notice.
- Some of the settings that will be exempt from requirements to use the NHS COVID Pass include: communal worship; wedding ceremonies; funerals; other commemorative events.
- Responses to be on-line by 11 October 2021 (no time specified). A hard copy of the questions is the Consultation in the Policy paper.
- Details in Policy paper: Proposal for mandatory COVID certification in a Plan B scenario.
The COVID-19 Response: Autumn and Winter Plan 2021, published on 14 September, sets out the government’s aims to sustain the progress made and prepare the country for future challenges, while ensuring the National Health Service (NHS) does not come under unsustainable pressure during this period. If the data suggests the NHS is likely to come under unsustainable pressure, the government has prepared a Plan B for England.
Under Plan B, in certain settings:
- mandatory vaccine-only certification could be introduced for all visitors aged 18 or over
- members of the workforce aged 18 or over in these settings could then be required to test regularly, if they are not fully vaccinated
The proposal for mandatory COVID certification in a Plan B scenario sets out further detail on the proposals.
The government intends to take a proportionate approach, balancing the impact on public health with the economic and social impacts by focussing on settings where crowds mix and come into close contact. Mandating vaccine-only certification could allow settings that have experienced long periods of closure to remain open, compared to more stringent measures which may severely reduce capacity or cause them to close entirely.
The government will engage on certification proposals with affected businesses and civil society to ensure measures are proportionate and effective. From February to July 2021, the government conducted a review into COVID-status certification, including a public call for evidence that received 52,450 responses. We are again seeking stakeholders’ views on certification proposals and invite submissions of evidence.
The government is particularly interested in views from businesses, event organisers and venue operators, including from those that have experience of using certification on a voluntary basis over the summer, and on the proposals for the workforce. The government invites submissions of evidence, and is also engaging with stakeholder representative groups.
The call for evidence is open to everyone aged 18 or over.
The consultation document indicates that communal worship, wedding ceremonies, funerals, other commemorative events “will be exempt from requirements to use the NHS COVID Pass”. Nevertheless, organizations involved in these activities should be encouraged to respond since these terms are not defined nor alternatives to the use the NHS COVID Pass specified. Furthermore, there is a question on the consultation specific to these events, which asks: “Do you think that the list of settings is too narrow or captures too many settings?”. Given that some respondees might consider the list to too broad, this would need to be countered by positive support for the proposed measures.
A summary of the position on vaccine passports in England was included in the recent round-up of news on 26 September.
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