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Covid passport trials begin with live comedy night

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A comedy night in Liverpool will be the first event to pilot the government’s Covid passport scheme later this month.

Ministers hope the passes will allow the safe return of sports matches, conferences and night clubs in England.

They will include whether a person has been vaccinated, any recent negative test, or natural immunity determined by a recent positive test.

Downing Street also confirmed countries will be in a risk-based “traffic light” system when foreign holidays resumes.

Trials of the Covid passports will begin on 16 April with a show from the Hot Water Comedy Club in Liverpool and will continue through to mid-May.

Other pilot events include the FA Cup semi final and final, the World Snooker Championship, an evening at a nightclub, a mass participation run, a business conference and a cinema screening.

No 10 said the passport scheme, which it is describing as “Covid-status certification”, should not be used on public transport or in essential shops.

People would be able to demonstrate their status through an app, as well as “non-digital routes”.

The government added it is working with clinical and ethical experts on exemptions for people for whom vaccination is not advised and repeat testing would be difficult.

Businesses in England which can reopen in the coming weeks, including pubs, restaurants and non-essential retail will also not have to use the system for now.

However, sources say requiring a certificate to access hospitality further down the line – perhaps to reduce the need for social distancing – has not been ruled out.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: “We have made huge strides over the past few months with our vaccine programme and everyone in the country has made huge sacrifices to get us to this stage in our recovery from Covid-19.

“We are doing everything we can to enable the reopening of our country so people can return to the events, travel and other things they love as safely as possible.”

Critics, including more than 40 Tory MPs and privacy campaigners, have suggested a Covid passport scheme could be “discriminatory and counterproductive”.

Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn and senior Tory Iain Duncan Smith are among a broad coalition of MPs who have pledged their opposition.

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While the proposed plans cover England only, the government is discussing the scheme with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Under the government’s four-step plan to ease England’s lockdown, legal limits on social contact could be lifted by 21 June, if strict conditions are met.

End of social distancing?

The government also outlined further details of its plans for a risk-based traffic-light system for international travel after the “stay in the UK” message comes to an end.

It said it will “help ensure the UK’s vaccine progress isn’t jeopardised and provide clear guidance for travellers”.

International leisure travel will not be allowed until 17 May at the earliest.

After this point, travellers from countries in the green category will not have to isolate, although pre-departure and post-arrival tests will still be needed.

For countries assigned red and amber, restrictions would remain as they are now, with arrivals required to enter quarantine or self-isolation.

Downing Street said it is too early to predict which countries will be on which list over the summer.

The list of countries included in each category will be drawn up closer to the time, and the government continues to advise people not to book summer holidays abroad.

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It added that more detail on international travel will be provided on Monday, along with information about a review into social distancing.

The review is examining how and when distancing requirements and the working from home guidance could be lifted and whether Covid certification could facilitate changes to the rules.

UK coronavirus statistics for 3 April 2021

On Saturday it was announced that more than five million people in the UK have now received a second dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. The latest figures show an additional 246,631 second doses, bringing the total to 5.2 million.

First doses have been given to 31.4 million people.

It comes as the UK begins to relax some coronavirus restrictions.

England has allowed gatherings outside of up to six people or as two households since Monday, while the reopening of outdoor hospitality and all shops is planned from 12 April.

Rules on visits to care homes in England will also be relaxed from 12 April to allow two regular visitors indoors, the government has announced.

Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland have also begun to allow outdoor socialising.

But Mr Johnson has warned people against mixing with other households indoors over the Easter weekend, even if they have been vaccinated.

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