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Covid Passports Not Required For Live Events Pilot

It has been reported that venues taking part in a pilot for Covid-safe live events in England have rejected the suggestion they are involved in a trial for Covid certificates.

The heads of five of the nine events in the pilot programme confirmed they will not use proof of vaccination for participation. One of the venues reported that it received a “massive backlash” following a government announcement.

The news follows the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport’s (DCMS) announcement that the NHS is designing a system that will enable attendees to use an app or a paper certificate to attend trial events planned for April and May.

The details reported said that ‘Covid status certification’ would be trialled as part of the programme. However, organisers of five of the nine events listed as part of the pilot programme said they would not require people to show certificates.

According to The Guardian, the introduction of Covid identity documents has been opposed by civil liberties groups and more than 70 MPs, including 40 Tory backbenchers.

DCMS also confirmed that the initial venues announced would only require audience members to have a negative test to secure entry but that a certification scheme was being discussed for use at later events, such as the FA Cup semi-final.

The system would use vaccination status, a recent negative Covid test result or “natural immunity”, meaning a person has tested positive in the previous six months.

Several organisers of the pilot events have rejected suggestions of Covid passports.

A spokesperson for Liverpool city council, which trialled mass community testing for people without symptoms in November, said:

“The line which was briefed out yesterday by the government about Liverpool’s events being included in the vaccine passports trials is incorrect – none of our events in Liverpool will involve them.”

The spokesperson added that the pilots will explore how different approaches to social distancing, ventilation and test-on-entry protocols could ease opening and maximise participation, including the use of lateral flow tests – but there will be no use of 'vaccine passports'.

Prof Iain Buchan, the executive dean at the Institute of Population Health at the University of Liverpool, who is assisting with the scheme, added that “none of the advanced research programme is using vaccination status at all”.

He said the pilot in the city was focused on researching transmission at events in the hope of reducing it to “an infinitesimally small risk”, and vaccination status was not a sound evidence base.

A DCMS press release that listed the events planned as part of the events research programme, with audiences of up to 1,000 people in indoor venues and 21,000 seated outdoors, had said that “Covid-status certification will be trialled as part of the pilot programme”.