The Chief Medical officer has said he can “see the rationale” for vaccine passports within hospitality, as he reiterates people should not travel abroad this summer.
Dr Michael McBride said that although the idea of a vaccine passport was a decision which was “ultimately political”, he added that he thought the idea needed to be “carefully looked at”.
Dr McBride was responding to reports in England that the issue of individual pubs asking customers to provide a vaccine certificate is in consideration by the government, after the Prime Minister Boris Johnson told MPs it “may be up to individual publicans”.
Speaking to BBC Good Morning Ulster on Thursday morning, Dr McBride said the decision had to be considered by the Executive, but warned there could be problems with such a proposal.
“I think the idea of vaccine passports needs to be carefully looked at, at a UK level,” he said.
“There are lots of issues, in terms of human rights equity issues in relation to the practicality of that, considerations around people forging those passports. This is not a straight black or white matter.”
The Chief Medical Officer also said that it was “premature” for people to book summer holidays at this point as a result of the rising levels of infection throughout Europe.
Warning people not to “plan too far ahead”, Dr McBride added that any decisions around travel going forward into the summer “are for the Executive”.
“The short-term trajectory of this virus is very uncertain we look with concern and observe what’s happening with our European neighbours and again some increasing cases in the Republic of Ireland,” Dr McBride explained.
“I think there is no doubt many people will look at the rising case rates in other countries, the new variants that are there, and will conclude themselves that to book holidays would be premature at this stage and risks cancellation.
“I wish we could be more certain in terms of the advice and information we give to the public and the business community.
“But what we have been shown time and time again, where we have tried to put dates or to put rules around things, this virus doesn’t respond to our plans or our dates.
“The balance is tipping in our favour in terms of fighting this virus. We just need to ease our way gradually and carefully out of these restrictions and be mindful our near neighbours are not in the same place.”