The prospect of Covid certificates being used to gain entry to pubs, theatres and music venues on step closer to becoming a reality after ministers received a blessing from the cultural sector.
A powerful group of high-profile figures from the arts – such as composer Andrew Lloyd-Webber, Ralph Feinnes, Bond producer Barbara Brocolli and playwright Tom Stoppard -threw their weight behind so-called Covid passports to bring back audiences once again.
In a letter, the group of some of the biggest names in the creative industry, including Reading, Leeds and Latitude festivals organiser Melvin Benn, said they are “very much supportive of the continued exploration” of the use of Covid certificates to reopen the cultural sector.
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Downing Street officials have privately welcomed the letter and believe it all but removes one of the biggest remaining hurdles to bringing in Covid passports in the months ahead.
The letter reads: “We strongly support the Government’s ambition to return to full capacity audiences without restrictions as soon as possible, and we recognise that this can be only be achieved through gathering evidence that it is safe to remove or lessen restrictions, including looking at how Covid status certification could aid the reduction of social distancing.”
It adds: “We understand that this approach would involve either proof of vaccination, a negative Covid test or an antibody test to allow access to a venue. We are clear that this approach must not rely only on proof of vaccination, and also that it must only be a temporary measure, only used for as long as necessary.”
A pilot scheme using Covid certificates is due to get underway next month, with officials telling i that the trials will be providing the Government results before the final step of the roadmap due on 21 June.
Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove, who is leading the Government’s review into Covid certificates, flew to Israel with deputy chief medical officer Jonathan Van Tam to see first hand how the country’s own “green pass” certification system is functioning.
Test events are continuing to be held in the UK with the Brit Awards the latest to sign up to the Government’s Events Research Programme, which examines how venues and events can reopen safely.
An audience of 4,000 guests will attend the ceremony at the O2 in London, and will not be required to wear masks or be socially distanced from one another, although they will need to provide evidence of a negative test result.