The proposal for compulsory COVID-status certification in certain settings is a contingency measure in the Government’s Autumn and Winter Plan

Covid vaccine

The Government has issued a policy proposal on the introduction of mandatory COVID-status certification in certain settings as a contingency measure.

The proposal forms part of the COVID-19 response: autumn and winter plan 2021, which sets out the Government’s strategies to ensure that the NHS does not come under unsustainable pressure over the winter period. If the data suggest that this is likely to happen, the Government has prepared a ‘Plan B’ for England, under which measures such as mandatory COVID-status certification will be rapidly adopted to control the spread of the virus while minimising the economic and social impact.

Under Plan B, in certain settings:

  • mandatory vaccine-only certification could be introduced for all visitors aged 18 years or over
  • members of the workforce aged 18 years or over in these settings could then be required to test regularly, if they are not fully vaccinated.

The settings to which these conditions apply include:

  • all nightclubs and other venues open after 1 a.m. with alcohol, music, and dancing
  • indoor events with 500 or more attendees, where those attendees are likely to stand and mix to a significant degree or move around during the event, such as music venues or large receptions
  • outdoor, crowded settings with 4000 or more attendees, where those attendees are likely to stand or move around during the event, such as outdoor festivals
  • any settings with 10,000 or more attendees, such as large sports and music stadia.

Further details of the measures can be found in the full policy proposal.

However, the Government says that it is confident that ‘Plan A’ will prevent the NHS from facing unsustainable pressure. The measures currently being implemented as part of Plan A include: 

  • building defences through pharmaceutical interventions
  • identifying and isolating positive cases to limit transmission
  • supporting the NHS and social care
  • advising people on how to protect themselves and others
  • pursuing an international approach.

The Government states that it ‘invites feedback’ on the policy proposals—the consultation period will remain open until 11:45 p.m. on 11 October 2021. The Government is particularly keen to hear from from businesses, event organisers, and venue operators with experience of using voluntary COVID-status certification over the summer.

Maggie Throup, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment, said: ‘Our Autumn and Winter plan puts us on a sure footing and gives the whole country the best possible chance of living with COVID-19 in the months ahead, without the need for unwanted social and economic restrictions.

‘The vaccine programme has tilted the odds in our favour in our shared fight against this virus and while we are totally confident the careful steps we are taking will help rule out the need for mandatory vaccine certificates, we need to be prepared for all scenarios.

‘We know these kinds of contingency plans will only work if businesses and the public get to have their say and I’m urging everyone who could have to use certification: give us your views, give us your ideas.’

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Lead image: Alernon77/stock.adobe.com

Image 1: Alernon77/stock.adobe.com